Public agenda advertisements are a popular type of marketing for government and charities as they communicate information on social issues or initiatives taking place in the community.
Commercial brands occasionally choose a similar strategy, highlighting anything from brand ethics to conscientious, community-minded corporate engagement. Two recent examples are the National Broadband Network (NBN) and Hitachi advertisements.
The NBN Execution
This NBN creative appeared in a number of print titles including the Hobart Mercury, Illawarra Mercury, Cairns Post and Townsville Bulletin.
This full page ad features an attention grabbing image of a young girl interacting with a futuristic information source accompanied by tight copy highlighting the benefits of improved digital infrastructure for future generations.
The Hitachi Execution
This ad appeared in The Australian Financial Review and The Sydney Morning Herald on May 19-20, 2015.
Like the NBN creative, it features a young girl, but using building blocks to make a model city. The image supports detailed copy that outlines Hitachi’s corporate strategy of social innovation to provide a better life for our community.
Both ads are similar in terms of design and content, and have been benchmarked using ADvance, The Newspaper Work’s advertising effectiveness methodology.
Results show the NBN creative was significantly more effective ad, despite similar creative elements. A deep dive into the data shows why.
Six strategic advertising roles of newspapers have been validated both qualitatively and quantitatively by The Newspaper Works, resulting in the creation of RoleMap. For more information on this map, click here.
Both creative executions scored above average in terms of highlighting important social issues. One in four (24%) respondents said the Hitachi ad raised important issues with 21 percent saying the same of the NBN execution.
The Hitachi ad gave 22 percent of respondents a reason to think differently about the brand. They said it providing detail around the company’s work in big data and social innovation. This broadened their knowledge of the company and encouraged re-evaluation of the brand.
“The information presented in this ad is very important, it changes the perception for the brand and makes me want to learn more about their products and services. This ad enhances the value of Hitachi brand on the market.”
The NBN creative significantly outscored average benchmarking scores on a number of creative benchmarks. It increased brand affinity for one in four (23%) respondents and 24 percent said it encouraged them to reappraise their opinion of NBN.
“It looks different and has a new message from things I’ve heard about the NBN before. It makes me feel better about it from what I’ve heard before.”
The creative also scored strongly on call to action, and 23 percent said they would take action after reading the ad.
The Action Map
Newspapers are recognised as an effective medium for delivering a Call to Action. ActionMap, another proprietary newspaper metric, expands on this strategic role to provide an understanding of the types of action a newspaper ad inspires. For more information on ActionMap, click here.
The NBN ad encouraged two important actions – seek more information (at 22% more than twice as effective as the average ad), and contact the company directly (23%, almost four times more effective than the average).
“It is something different and worth getting information on to find out more about it.”
The Hitachi ad scored well in terms of encouraging memorability (16%) and encouraging online search (13%).
“It does catch your eye . . . it’s well laid out and makes me look and read further from the website.”
Both executions scored above the norm in terms of lifting brand scores. One in three said the Hitachi ad improved their understanding of the brand. Two in five respondents said the NBN ad was brand appropriate. The ads earned particularly marks for differentiating the Hitachi and NBN brands from similar category brands (34% for Hitachi, 43% for NBN).
The NBN creative performed better than the Hitachi ad across a number of ad effectiveness measures. How can two print ads similar in look, tone and message elicit different scores? Creative diagnostics indicate the answer lies in copy.
The NBN ad benefits from a cleaner attention-grabbing layout, with a more effective image and easily read copy.
Readers were impressed with NBN’s succinct copy. It provided enough information to increase brand perceptions and drive call to action while not cluttering the space. Looking at the creative diagnostics map, the NBN creative scored significantly above the norm across a range of positive attributes.
“It’s a positive, clear and simple ad that comes across as unpretentious and inviting. I like how it is also uncluttered. Most newspaper ads get the message lost in too much information.”
“The issue it raises is important for society, the ad is relatively clean, simple, attractive looking. The blue colour is eye-catching.”
While the Hitachi ad interested many readers, it didn’t engage respondents as effectively as the NBN ad. Many respondents commented that the ad was cluttered, and in particular that the large block of text was uninviting and hard to read.
Others found the copy was too long. Negative opinions on copy length significantly lifted negative diagnostic scores and dragged down positive scores.
Its creative achieved a great balance of imagery and copy, earning excellent creative diagnostic scores. The message highlighting the benefits of NBN to future generations was well received, delivering a lift in brand affinity. The creative had a significant impact on call to action, encouraging consumers to search for more information online.
The ad encouraged consumers to reassess views of Hitachi, introducing aspects of the brand many were unaware of. It raised important issues for consumers that stimulated word of mouth and increased brand memorability. However, some found the copy long and lacking detail.
The key learning here is to encourage advertisers to focus on the key messages of their advertisement and deliver them as succinctly as possible.