Gray Matters: Social media, marketing tech, junk food ads, local design talent and offensive ads

New ad networks

Has Facebook and other social media changed the way we interact with advertising? An article by Saleem Alhabash, associate professor of advertising and public relations at Michigan State University, published originally in The Conversation and republished in Salon, would have us believe this is the case.

“Think about seeing a product on Facebook, “liking” or “sharing” it, then immediately clicking the ad to place the product in a shopping cart on Amazon,” she writes. “Just like that, within a few seconds, you’ve moved from noticing a product and indicating an attitude online to that same product being purchased and marked for shipping to your doorstep.”

As Alhabash so correctly states: “This is a vastly different process from seeing an ad on TV, then having to get into your car or take the bus to travel to the brick-and-mortar store, picking the advertised product from the pile, holding it in your hands and taking it to the register for purchase.”

A 2018 article in Global Banking and Finance Review entitled, How Social Media is influencing purchasing decisions, quotes a recent study that indicates that around 80 percent of users are odds-on to purchase a product based on suggestions by peers and kinsfolk. On the flipside, the article warns that “a brand garnering considerable attention and prominence from social influencers and consumers alike will have a severe dampening effect in convincing its credibility to customers if it has a lacklustre and vapid social media presence.” So, context is most important for those attempting to use social influencers on social media to help sell their brands.

The choice of advertising platforms on the social front is broadening even further and brands such as Heineken are tapping into live-streaming video platforms like Twitch, the navigation app Waze and audio platform Acast. The widely praised campaign is highlighted in a feature in Marketing Week.

“If you’re sick of competing against hundreds of other companies for the attention of the same market share or tired of paying the increased CPC or CPM fees that all these other advertisers drive up, don’t feel that Google and Facebook are your only two options,” advises an article in Single Grain. “There are plenty of other ad networks out there that’ll help you open new channels of growth— and plenty of great reasons to use them.”

The list includes 53 suggestions, some of which are more relevant to our local market, like LinkedIn, Spotify, Instagram, Amazon and YouTube, but there are others which may interest the more adventurous marketers. As the article states: “Take the time to make yourself aware of other options out there that are more flexible, cheaper and may even be a better fit for your audience. New ad networks are being launched every year. Combining these new opportunities with the platforms that have been around for years will give your business the best odds of maximizing its investment in paid traffic.”

Marketing tech

Australia’s Marketing has just published Marketo’s ‘Marketing 2025: The future of skills and technology in marketing across Australia and New Zealand’. This was developed in partnership with Which-50 and ADMA, and asked marketers to predict what their top marketing priorities and tools will be in 2025.

As a result, it’s expected that by 2025: customer lifetime value will become priority number one; lead generation will be much less of a focus; marketing will become a technology hub, and general marketing skills will fall almost entirely out of fashion.

If that alarms you, then just realise that marketing is a career that requires constant re-education and upskilling, and the ability to maximise marketing automation will be an important part of this.

“One of the most important features of any good marketing automation programme is its ability to track the movement of prospects across your various web properties,’ says Single Grain. MA programs can automate email nurturing campaigns, can help you qualify leads, can help you reach people at the best possible times, and can reduce the time and energy needed to close deals. 

According to the Marketo survey, huge changes are predicted in the area of marketing skills. “Many niche and emerging marketing skills beginning to gain importance today will lead teams in 2025, while a few current tasks will decline or be automated into oblivion. Marketing will become a technology hub. In-demand skills will cover analytics, data, insights, CX, UX, AI and machine learning, to name a few.”

Junk food ad ban

The urge to ban junk food advertising is gaining momentum over the ditch and the New South Wales development is bound to have an impact on advocates here. As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald: “Pressure is mounting on the NSW government to ban junk food advertisements on public transport, with new research showing children who catch the bus or train to school are exposed to 4.5 ads spruiking chips, donuts and ice cream per trip.”

Researchers found 75 percent of the food and drink ads were for unhealthy, sugary, fatty or salty products. Meanwhile, the Outdoor Media Association (OMA) has had to start defending the junk food marketing on buses and trains.

This recent Australian action comes on the back of Healthy Together Auckland laying a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority over an ad for Kinder chocolate aimed at kids. Otago University, Wellington professor Louise Signal told Mike Hosking on ZB in November that when it comes to junk food advertising, the model isn’t working.

“There is clear evidence we have a significant obesity problem with our kids and the current model doesn’t work here or around the world. The current system puts commercial interests ahead of our children.”

Michael Hale, a public health specialist and spokesperson for Healthy Auckland Together, said on RNZ new rules that came in last year were unclear. “There’s no strong deterrent and there’s big holes in it, and that’s what we’re concerned about.”

The ASA is an industry body and, as such, Dr Hale said it was not equipped to make such important decisions.

Back in 2017 the then Labour health spokesman David Clark said obesity was a major issue and National’s “head in the sand” approach was not good enough. Now Clarke is the Minister of Health, we can expect to see action taken in the current term of government.

Fine design

Reading in StopPress that Dow Goodfolk, previously Dow Design, recently celebrated its silver anniversary at the end of 2018 made me realise how good the design sector is in New Zealand. Following on from that it was good to see local design agency Onfire being awarded Gold and Silver by the World Packaging Design Society for recent work. Onfire was also awarded Gold and Silver by the World Packaging Design Society for recent work.

The man behind Onfire is managing director Sam Allen who trained in the UK and worked for the likes of The Campaign Palace and Identity Design in London before moving to Auckland.

The World Brand Design Society ranks the top 50 most awarded creative agencies in the field of consumer and corporate brand design and in 2018 Onfire came in 10th! Other New Zealand design companies in the top 50 worldwide include Butcher & Butcher at 21, and Think Packaging at 22. Both are Auckland-based.

The World Brand Design Society league table ranking represents the top 50 most awarded creative agencies and designers in the field of consumer and corporate brand design and the data is independently curated from the Notable Agencies and Works, now called the World Brand Design Awards.

Easily offended

Are New Zealanders too easily offended and is this a concern for advertisers. Humour is in the eye of the beholder but there is a Kiwi conservatism that feels the line is crossed when it comes to references about sex.

A visit to the Advertising Standards authority website clearly shows that much light-hearted sexual innuendo is a step too far for some New Zealanders.

A Restaurant Brands television advertisement for KFC showed a man changing clothes on the side of the road.  The woman holding the towel up for his privacy deliberately dropped the towel as a passing car approached. The complainants were concerned the advertisement showed a person being sexually harassed and humiliated which is offensive.

The message board outside Henry’s Beer, Wine and Spirits premises in Woolston, Christchurch said “Day 5 without sex: I went for a run with jandals on, just so I could remember the sound.” The complainant was concerned the message board used explicit sexual content, which they found offensive in a public place where children were exposed to the message.

A Specsavers television advertisement shows a cricket player walking past a lunch table of food and picking up a half an avocado instead of his groin protector. The man inserts the avocado into his trousers and walks onto the pitch and attempts to adjust the avocado into the correct position. The graphic on the advertisement says, “Should’ve gone to Specsavers.”

So, what is the effect of exposure to sexual appeals in advertisements on memory, attitude, and purchase intention? An American study testing the effect of sexual appeals in ads on memory, found a small significant negative effect on brand attitude, but no effect on purchase intention.

The study quoted in Psychology Today showed that when the researchers turned to the matter of whether the brands within the ads were more likely to be recalled, the 31 effects looking at brand recognition turned out to barely break zero. “While sex might be attention-grabbing, it didn’t seem especially good at getting people to remember the objects being sold.”


“Just four percent of advertising is remembered positively, seven percent is remembered negatively, but a whopping 89 percent isn’t noticed or remembered,” – Dave Trott, creative director and the author of Creative Mischief; Predatory Thinking: A Masterclass in Out-thinking the Competition; and most recently, One Plus One Equals Three: A Masterclass in Creative Thinking.

About Author

Graham Medcalf is a freelance writer and owner of Red Advertising.

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