Poster Watch

Poster recognition was lower in this month’s survey than in any of the previous studies, with the leading executions – Amex and Palmolive – recognised by less than half the sample. O&M’s Patrick Collister (below, right) stresses the importance

Three hundred adults, aged between 18 and 60, were shown pictures of ten current posters by RSL, with the brand names removed, and asked which they recognised, and which they liked.

Recognition was lower overall than in the previous four Posterwatch surveys, although approval was slighter higher. None of the posters shown was recognised by more than half of those interviewed.

American Express and Palmolive tied for the top slot. Both posters were remembered by 48 per cent of respondents, well ahead of the Ford Ka, Rover and Renault Megane Convertible ads, all recognised by just under four out of ten people. Thirty-six per cent remembered seeing Smirnoff’s V2, and 34 per cent Perpetual Fund Management’s windfall share execution – the latest in the long-running “mountain” campaign. A third had seen Little Chef and Kiwi Fruit; Mercury’s “Double your money back” campaign brought up the rear with 22 per cent recognition.

Recognition and liking are not as closely linked as in previous surveys. The Renault Megane ad moves up from fourth to top place; nearly two-thirds of people liked this poster. Kiwi Fruit – remembered by only 30 per cent – doubled its score to 61 per cent approval. Amex, Palmolive, the Ka and Rover tied for third place, liked by six out of ten people, followed by Perpetual and V2 with 50 per cent. But less than half – 46 per cent – voted for Mercury, and 39 per cent for Little Chef.

The similar score of the four third-placed posters hid their appeal to different target markets – not always what the product group would suggest. Sixty-five per cent of women, compared with 53 per cent of men, liked the Palmolive poster; the figures were reversed for Amex and the Ka. But the Megane ad appealed almost equally to both sexes, and Rover – unusually for car advertising – mirrored the Palmolive score.

Posters must sell product – not the ad

The problem for post ers at the moment is that ad agencies tend instinctively to see TV as the main medium.

You can cram a lot into a 30-second TV ad, you can establish an emotional relationship as well as telling consumers a number of facts about your product.

A poster is only one image and a handful of words, so to do good poster advertising, you need a very disciplined and focused creative brief.

The Little Chef poster is my favourite. It’s well art-directed – you go from the bite out of the steering wheel and follow the curve down to the logo – and a model of clear thinking.

Mercury is setting out to create a brand personality with the yellow and blue, but I find the ads a little cold, and a bit two dimensional – the eye just scoots over them.

The Renault Megane is strikingly shot, and it draws the eye in; it makes the most of a good-looking car.

Rover is such a wonderful photograph, it is doing a whole campaign using these classic shots, although I wonder why it has used a French photograph for such an English car.

The possible problem with this campaign is that people will remember the picture rather than the brand. Art and artifice can get in the way between the consumer and the brand – you want people to be interested in the product, not the ad.

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