Purposeful Grazing in Ad Land

Consumers Rely on Various Media to Form Whole Picture

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Consumers get tired of seeing the same ads over and over again, and want variety as they graze through media fields.

In a $50,000, two-part study of 363 Americans and their views of advertising, communications and media, Ketchum Communications, Pittsburgh, found 90% look for advertising that's more informative than entertaining and want it from a variety of media.

Consumers are "looking for collaboration from multiple sources," said Ken Stern, VP-director of strategic planning and research for Ketchum Advertising, New York.

Mr. Stern noted many participants said they use TV and radio to "topline" subjects they're interested in. They use print to learn more about these topics.

"There's a lot of talk about media grazers," he said. "In many ways, all they're doing is trying to knit together a story. They're grazing but very purposefully."

Among the study's conclusions is that a single channel of information won't establish optimal credibility. Marketers and their agencies, the study suggests, shouldn't limit themselves to advertising alone but explore public relations and public affairs techniques as well as word-of-mouth communications, direct marketing and point-of-purchase promotions.

"Eighty-five percent of the people we spoke with practice convergent [integrated] communications," Mr. Stern said. "They compare what they see, read and hear to get at truth. The public is much more skeptical of media in general than they were, and this is probably increasing. They all know they're being spin-doctored."

Also, as part of the two-part study, three-quarters of the participants in six focus groups of 10 consumers in New York and San Francisco last summer said they're bored by seeing the same ads repeatedly. (The later nationwide telephone survey included 303 people.)

Paul Alvarez, Ketchum Communications chairman-ceo, acknowledged that finding may mean Coca-Cola Classic's 30-commercial blitz from Creative Artists Agency, Beverly Hills, Calif., is leading a new trend.

"[But] more of what they're saying is `If you're going to have three commercials in a football game, I really wish there were three different commercials,"' Mr. Alvarez said. "It's a more expensive proposition, but if you're holding their attention, that's what you're buying. Consumers want different executions. They want a different cast of characters."

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