‘Normal’ people don’t love advertising

When it comes to media and advertising consumption, the denizens of ad land aren’t normal. While the rest of the world does everything it can to avoid pre-rolls and 60-second TV spots—however creative they might be—those employed by the advertising and marketing machine tend to be far more enamoured with promotional messaging.

But this is by no means surprising. Those who decide to commit eight hours—often more—of their day to the discipline will inevitably have a greater interest in all things ad-related.

The problem, however, is that media and advertising decisions are often made from the perspective of ad people, who differ substantially from the average citizens. As a corollary, this could potentially result in media placements that fail to connect with the majority of the target market.    

So, in an effort to remind ad people that their undying love for all forms of advertising might not be shared by everyone, Adshel has launched a campaign that encourages ad people to take a quiz to determine how in love they are with advertising.

The result is expressed as a percentage, which is then compared to the average statistics among those who don’t work in the advertising industry. 

Nick Vile, the general manager of Adshel New Zealand, says that the the purpose of the campaign is to show that Kiwis’ media consumption habits have not changed quite as much as we imagine over the last ten years.         

“Our survey, ‘How in Love with Advertising are you?’, aims to discover if those in ad land are really influenced by their own consumption habits, rather than how regular New Zealanders consume media in 2014,” he said in a release.

While the campaign has an interesting premise, it is still a form of Adshel advertising that aims to draw marketers to the outdoor channel. And nowhere is this clearer than when the survey ends with a series of cartoons that hint at the superiority of the outdoor channel.     

The campaign was initially launched in Australia, and its success there led to Adshel also releasing it on this side of the ditch. This is actually the second Adshel campaign of this sort and follows on from last year’s ‘How agency are you?’ quiz, which aimed to highlight how insular the ad industry tends to be.

According to an article on Australian publication B&T, the initial survey included a range of insights like the fact that 78 percent of Sydney’s population live outside the areas where 97% of Sydney agencies are, 80 percent of ad people had never been to or heard of Parramatta and nearly 60 percent visited the same restaurant in North Bondi.      

And the antipodean region isn’t alone in identifying trends that suggest some key differences between ad employees and normal citizens. In July last year, UK TV industry body Thinkbox released the results of a study that showed how different media consumption was between those in the ad industry and those who aren’t.

Each of the social media channels included in the survey showed much higher consumption among ad people than those who lived outside the ad realm.

When these findings were released, Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam’s head of planning Martin Wiegel published an article on his personal blog saying: “It’s human nature to extrapolate from our own, personal experience of the world. And sometimes it is a useful place to start. But … we would do well to remember that in some of our media and technology habits, we are very different from people in the normal world. So next time you hear somebody claim that ‘everybody’ is doing this, or ‘everybody’ is doing that, take it with a grain of salt. The chances are that they’re talking about themselves.”

This being said, confirmation bias also plays a part when it comes to statistical findings. Those who commission and read the statistics are often more likely to notice trends that can be favourably reconciled with their worldview. It is thus worth noting that in the instances mentioned in this article, the companies that published the statistical information were also favoured by it.       

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