Cinderella and a pair of slippers: Peter Field and Les Binet talk success in a multichannel world

Earlier this month, Peter Field and Adam & Eve/DDB head of effectiveness Les Binet touched down in New Zealand with the truth about effectiveness in a changing media landscape on their minds. Prior to their presentation to local media and advertisers, StopPress sat down with the pair to hear how TV remains the foundation for brand building while other mediums act as support.

By Erin McKenzie | August 17, 2018 | news

Referred to as the godfathers of TV, there's no denying that Field and Binet are pro-TV and after a night at TVNZ presenting their thoughts to New Zealand's advertising and media industry, they're no doubt hoping to have converted the non-believers.

However, when asked which side they are on in the battle between traditional media and digital media, Field and Binet argue they are actually on evidence’s side.

“If you are evidence-based you are inevitably pro TV because all the evidence says TV still works pretty damn well,” says Field.

Peter Field, Les Binet

Looking at research into New Zealand's media/advertising landscape, there's validity in their argument with ThinkTV's data showing TV drives more revenue per dollar invested than other channels.

It also shows TV retains approximately 65 percent of its impact from the previous week.

Beyond the business numbers, Binet says it’s as easy as going online to see the effectiveness of TV – more specifically Twitter.

“If you look at the top Twitter topics of the year, every year, they tend to be related to TV in some way, like TV programmes or a televised sporting event."

A recent programme to take social media by storm was Love Island UK – a reality show watching a group of men and women attempting to build relationships while competing to be the last couple standing.

Binet has never watched the show before, but says with all the social media commentary by his friends, he feels like he has.

This ability to build fame is one of the three really important ingredients TV has to successfully build brands.

Another ingredient is reach, as it has the broadest of any medium – a point demonstrated in NZ On Air’s recent media consumption report Where Are The Audiences 2018.

It shows the weekly audiences for traditional broadcast media continue to deliver the biggest audiences, with 82 percent of New Zealanders tuning into linear TV each week. Radio followed on 78 percent.

However, it's the rise of SVODs that showed the biggest growth. Total (net) SVOD is up to 62 percent of New Zealanders using them, after 35 percent of New Zealanders were using SVODs on a weekly basis in 2016. And, unlike free-to-air, these services aren't showing any ads so are of little interest to brands (but of reasonable concern to broadcasters). 

The final ingredient Field and Binet say gives TV its brand-building power is emotion.

Well-known examples of the combination of these three ingredients are John Lewis’ Christmas ads.

Each year they mark the arrival of Christmas in the UK as they play out on TV and draw millions to social media to watch it.

Last year’s ‘#MozTheMonster’ has so far achieved over 9.9 million views on YouTube.

Binet’s agency Adam & Eve DDB is responsible for the ads and he says they could not have achieved those numbers if the ads only ever lived online “because they would never have got that momentum”.

For Field, looking at John Lewis’ Christmas ads as an outsider, he says there is a lesson to be learned about the symbiotic relationship between the broadcast world and the online world.

But still, “TV has the capacity to get people talking and sharing and interacting in a way frankly online video has not yet achieved”.

TV tells a story

A local example both Field and Binet reference is Lotto’s ‘Armoured Truck’ by DDB.

It watches two security guards break away from their route with a truck full of cash. While one freaks out, thinking they are stealing, the other is cool, calm and collected as he’s about to unveil they’ve won Lotto.

It was enough to bring Binet to tears and Field explains why.

“It ticks all boxes, it's intriguing and a great piece of storytelling. There’s an emotional payoff after an emotional rollercoaster which is important.”

And with Christmas on the mind following a discussion about John Lewis, Farmers’ 2017 Christmas ad by FCB, is another local ad that gets a shout out.

Called ‘Secret Santa’, it’s centred around a protagonist initially painted as a grumpy old man. However, as the struggles of his neighbouring family play out, so does his kindness as he swoops in to save the day.

Field sees it in the same light as a John Lewis ad, saying when John Lewis started its Christmas ads, it wasn't as accomplished at it as it is today.

With that, he hopes Farmers sticks with it by releasing a new ad each year.

“It’s a proven route,” he says.

Three seconds isn't enough

What’s not as proven is the brand building ability of online video and this is because there’s little ability to tell a story.

With often just a matter of seconds to get a message across, some see value in getting the commercial message across in the first three seconds but Field rejects the mantra.

“How can you tell a story in the first three seconds? How can you emotionally engage someone in three seconds? You can't.”

Further explaining the point, Binet says: “I bet the guys with the kind of simplistic engineering-type thinking that produced that kind of recommendation­ ­start their joke with the punch line.”

On top of this, online video is faced with the challenge of often standing between the audience and their desired content.

In the online space, there isn’t the same understanding of the content exchange contract being entered into, says Binet, and acceptance for the ad is therefore lower.

When people are online shopping, they don’t want to be entertained, or when they are searching for a garage after their car has broken down they don’t want to be told a story, he says.

But how is this different from an ad break during a TV show?

Binet explains TV watching is often in a context in which the audience is relaxed and watching on a big screen.

Demonstrating this point, he gives the example of watching YouTube on the big screen with his daughter as they eat breakfast. In that context, he is tolerant of the pre-roll ads.

Field and Binet’s point is supported by research completed by TVNZ earlier this year that examined the acceptance of advertising across online video, TV and time-shifted TV.

It found  TV to be the platform the audience is most receptive to seeing ads. Of the participants in the research, 57 percent were “very open or quite open” to seeing ad. It was followed by TVNZ OnDemand, YouTube, recorded TV and lastly paid TV/video content.

Only 20 percent of participants were “very open" or "quite open” to seeing Paid TV/Video content on their paid platforms.

But Field and Binet don’t disregard advertising outside of TV and talking specifically about Facebook advertising, they say it does work.

However, they use the word “efficient” to describe its results, rather than “effective” which they use to describe TV.

Why? Because Facebook ads have a modest reach and a modest effect on sales they say, meaning it’s cost-effective but will not move the dial.

“You can’t dial up a Facebook ad, whereas if you invest serious money in TV and the creative is effective, you will get a very very significant sales response,” says Field.

Still or static?

Talking about online video, Field suggests thinking about it as a poster, saying great outdoor campaigns rely on the audience having that knowledge of what the brand is about so they only need to provide small reminders.

That brand knowledge, he says, is something that comes from a TVC.

If the story of Cinderella was brand story told in a TVC, an image of mice or a glass slipper could serve as the out-of-home campaign or online video.

It’s a tactic Binet says is used for John Lewis ads, while a local example can be seen in this year’s 'The great escape' campaign for Mercury by FCB.

Featuring a hero 90-second TVC introducing Ron and Malcolm who sneak out at night to take their electric vehicle for a spin, there are off-shooting six-second spots featuring the pairs different adventures.

Beyond the living room

'The great escape' campaign also spread across outdoor, where the electric vehicle was the star of the show.

Outdoor has been booming over recent years, with the ASA’s New Zealand advertising revenue report for 2017 showing the medium was up from $118 in 2016 to $140 million last year.

Binet credits that to the development of digital sites and addition of video, saying because of those, it’s hard to ignore.

“On the tube in London the stations have small screens going up the escalator and I try to ignore them but I can’t.”

On top of that, it has the fame factor like TV because it’s on the street and everyone can see it.

However, like online video, billboards lack the time to tell a story and also have no sound to support the development of an emotional connection bringing Field back to his main point:

“Success is about a multichannel world, not a one channel world and that’s what people need to understand.”

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