Ads have a duty to entertain and engage us

I was interested to read Sue Farr’s piece on the importance of visual communication (MW last week). Her words would certainly strike a chord within the poster industry, where the need for a strong visual identity has always been paramount. Som

I was interested to read Sue Farr’s piece on the importance of visual communication (MW last week). Her words would certainly strike a chord within the poster industry, where the need for a strong visual identity has always been paramount. Some of the most effective and visually striking poster campaigns have been based around this fundamental principle.

However, there are still times when verbal communication can achieve more than visual. In the past month, there have been at least two examples of genuinely entertaining advertising that have been able to create a real dialogue with their audiences. Both Unilever’s Lynx “Click” and Vittel’s “ReVittelising London” campaigns have sought to make advertising a two-way process, getting consumers involved beyond merely seeing ads.

In these cases, two great ideas have been brought to life by some equally great copywriting. Some might argue that creating a visual identity for either of these brands would have been equally salient, but what verbal communication has achieved is the clients’ holy grail of the hour – consumer engagement.

Of course, the context of advertising can often be as important as the message itself. We’ve always known that consumers on the move appreciate ads on the Underground – they expect the posters to be engaging and they expect to be entertained by them. Farr is absolutely right about the “cognitive glut”.

While carrying out our recent captive message time analysis, we calculated that there are about 36 billion total ad impacts across London, across all media. Perhaps therein lies the problem. Let’s not forget, though, that there are times when ads have a duty to entertain and engage, or at least they do in the eyes of their audience. A well-crafted verbal communication, put into the right context and the right environment, can engage consumers on a level that visual narrative can only aspire to.

Suneil Saraf

Strategic executive

Viacom Outdoor

London NW1

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