Letters, Dec. 8, 2008

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Ad frequency drives viewers crazy

RE: "Repeat Ad Nauseam: TV Spots Risk Driving Consumers Away" (AA, Dec. 1). Wearout isn't the issue. Angering and alienating customers with high repetition within a short time frame is.

This past weekend, I watched a relatively long movie on live TV. I just about came unglued by the barrage of commercial interruptions -- every 10 minutes or so.

Worse, almost every pod carried the same Ace Hardware holiday spot. The anger I felt from the commercial interruptions soon carried over to and became directed at Ace. By the 15th showing, I vowed never to set foot in an Ace Hardware store again.

The problem is most media buyers no longer monitor the distribution of their clients' spots within the individual programs they're buying. But they should. They need to insist (like the old days) on an acceptable frequency level and then police it, refusing to pay for dumping, because not doing so is absolutely toxic to a brand.

Bottom line: It's a lot easier to sway an unsold customer than it is to recapture one that's been thoroughly alienated. "Do no harm" should be the advertiser motto in this day of hyper-audience fragmentation -- no exceptions.

Joanne Froh
Milestone Media
Romeo, Mich.


The problem with Toyota's "Saved by Zero" spot is the jingle. I have a high threshold, but that spot makes me reach for the mute button. Commercials destined for high repetition should be "built to last."

Radio stations experience much the same phenomenon, as listeners say they tire of hearing songs played over and over, while demanding the stations always play their favorites. Like clothing, the good stuff wears better and lasts longer. It is interesting to note that, in these days when traditional media is being sent to an early grave, so many people have seen these spots enough times to warrant the creation of a Facebook group. That should be music to Toyota's ears and a lesson to marketers: Traditional media isn't dead yet. As Yankelovich said in its study of advertising, "People aren't in search of better media; they're in search of better marketing."

Martin Gould
Focalize Consulting
Hollywood, Fla.
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