I know media agencies have various ‘models’ in place to forecast and manage the reach and frequency of their advertising campaigns, but something surely needs to change for broadcast sponsorships, and in particular sports sponsorships.
Whether it’s an Olympics, the US Open (golf), a Lions Tour or the first Test of the Ashes, sponsors and advertisers are literally bombarding viewers with the same advertising messages over and over again. I appreciate that one of the objectives is to ‘cut through’ and grab the attention of viewers, but serving the same advertising message to the same viewers often well over 10 times a ‘session’ is beyond excessive and needs to be stopped.
During the just-completed first Ashes test, one advertiser must have interrupted my coverage on Fox Sports on at least 10 occasions (perhaps significantly more) and I would estimate over 50 times over the course of the entire test match.
With the US Open on Ten, there were numerous examples where the same television commercial was even shown twice in the same advertising break and again I would have seen the same advertising messages close to 30 times across the duration of the final two days of the tournament.
Imagine this behaviour in different scenarios… if someone emailed you 10 times in one evening, or if an advertiser placed the same advertisement in the same edition of a newspaper.
Advertisers clearly need to acknowledge that sports viewers are typically loyal to their passion and likely to consume the entire game (or series) and, as such, their passion needs to be considered when buying media within sports broadcasts. Viewers and the viewing environment need to be respected if brands want to succeed in engaging these audiences.
Speaking as a sports fan who consumes a lot of sport on TV (and I’m fairly confident that I can speak on behalf of millions of like-minded fans), the current approach is not having the desired effect. Rather than becoming intrigued by the advertiser and their message, instead each repetition of the TVC leaves me increasingly frustrated and with a spiraling negative feeling toward the offending brands.
Now, I understand that bonus airtime is often the main contributor to this issue, but if this additional airtime is only accentuating the issue, wouldn’t advertisers be better off declining this benefit and instead seeking alternative compensation from the broadcaster?
Alternatively, advertisers need to pay more attention to the specific environment of a sports broadcast and consider creating more creative executions to match the frequency of their message. Whether this be through additional brand TVCs or through the use of ‘themed creative’ (messages that are designed for the broadcast environment) – brands need to commit to respecting the audience more with content that engages them.
Justin Rickets is CEO of Ensemble Australia.