Consumer self recognition in commercial communication
The process of putting together communication material has never been easier. Stock libraries make inexpensive purchases of images incredibly quick. Unless the brand has to feature, it is quite possible to complete an ad without a photo shoot. Library music and sound effects make template radio advertising a quick study. Television advertising can be made with stock footage, also available from stock libraries. Desktop computing power makes the editing process accessible to everyone in the studio.
What this boils down to is a group of advertisements that can be made in a very short timespan. The only local requirement being the concept, the elements of the visual brand and a credit card.
Although this has good implications from the point of view of studio efficiency and costs, it is not exactly ideal. A radio ad made in Namibia may sound exactly the same as a radio ad made in South Africa. Where then does the consumer fit in?
The strong brand establishes a relationship between the consumer and the product or service. One of the key techniques that creates the most effective advertisement is to hold up a mirror to the consumer, to show the product in the context of his or her own environment, lifestyle or work or business environment.
The material which relies too much on the simplicity of stock production runs the risk of ignoring how the product or service fits with the real and present needs and wants of the consumer. To make communication more effective, it is important to place the consumer in the context of the brand.
There are several relatively simple means to achieve this.
The first is to portray the consumer. The standard portrayal advanced by studios is the model, an attractive male or female, selected to draw he eye for visual appeal. In reality, the consumer may not respond effectively to this.
Use a gym as an example. A person who wants to use a gym will make that decision based on perceived physical flaws. The model does not have those physical flaws however, and the depiction of the model may intimidate the consumer. The obvious solution would be to provide imagery which shows the perceived imperfection of the consumer and explain how the gym addresses those imperfections. Using a Namibian as a model or someone who appears Namibian, whether overweight or not, and setting a realistic standard, will strengthen any advertisement, regardless of the product or service.
For more effective material, local photography is an investment well worth considering.
The consumer has his or her own language as well. Standard correct language in advertising material is typically used, however this does not promote self-recognition on the part of the consumer: advertising that speaks Namlish will be more memorable, and realistic, than an advertisement that uses international language or a New York accent.
If this poses difficulty, it is quite possible to build in recognition of the consumer’s circumstance and environment with verbal or text messages as a stopgap measure, possibly using local language forms.
The South African Pendoring awards are a good example of the use of language in practice.
Acknowledgment of challenges faced by enterprise or individual consumers is a further means to build self recognition on the part of the audience.
The ideal is to use all of the methods at the same time, but this is often unrealistic in the face of difficult time-lines and tight budgets. The reality is that at least one of the three techniques, or more, should be used.
Advertising may seek to mimic the international style but it will be more effective if it is obviously local. The advertiser would be well advised to consider strengthening the advertisement with consumer recognition as it is not a creative proposition that makes the difference, but a keen eye for bottom line sales.