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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Crowther,
Planning Director, Banks Hoggins O'Shea/FCB in London describes what happened to consumer response when a commercial's endline was changed

A planner for 12 years, he joined BHO in 1997, having spent the preceding four years at Abbott Mead Vickers, where he worked on award-winning campaigns for Ikea, The Economist, and The Famous Grouse.

This article first appeared in Admap, January 1999, and was sourced from the World Advertising Research Center. Reprinted with permission. 1999 NTC Publications Ltd

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From Admap comes

What a Little Endline Can Do
By John Crowther

What a Little Endline Can Do

It is always dangerous to generalise, but if the endline has ever had a golden age, then it certainly is not now.

There are few obvious contemporary equivalents to 'For mash, get Smash', 'Milk's gotta lotta bottle' or even 'If only everything in life was as reliable as a VW' &endash; lines which were not just there to decorate an end-frame, but which delivered much of the punch of a campaign. Talk to creatives, and it is now quite common to find an assumption that an endline is a piece of worn-out ritual that has little relevance to the impact and effectiveness of the ad, rather than a fundamental and essential part of the communication.


This makes a piece of research that we have just conducted with our client Sara Lee of particular significance, since it demonstrates just how crucial an endline can be to the success of an ad.

When presented with scripts for a new TV campaign, the Sara Lee client was naturally concerned that an endline which suggests that the brand is unnecessary might be taken literally, and asked the agency to develop an alternative line which could be tested alongside 'Nobody needs Sara Lee'.

 

Two Versions

The alternative endline developed was 'Utterly, deliciously Sara Lee' &endash; an equally clear and logical summation of the creative idea, but one that avoided the risk of ending the ad on an apparently negative note.

Two versions of the finished film were cut, identical in all respects apart from the end-frame and voice-over &endash; differing, in effect, by just two words from one another.


The two versions were shown monadically to matched samples of 78 and 74 consumers, with consumers seeing the ad twice before being interviewed about their recollections and attitudes. The research was carried out by Consumer Insight.

It was immediately clear that the choice of endline had a very significant impact on consumers' reaction to the ad (Exhibit 1).

EXHIBIT 1: SELECTED RESPONSES TO THE ADVERTISING

Opinions

Per Cent Agreeing
'Nobody needs'
'Utterly, deliciously'

I liked the style of the ad

49
29

It was an ad I'd like to see again

29
16

I found the ad irritating

18
25

It made its point very well

51
20

I found the ad amusing

27
10
Source: Consumer Insight


Testing, Testing

What was perhaps more surprising was that changing two words did not simply alter the degree to which consumers liked the ad, it also changed their whole involvement with it.

For example, 89% agreed with the statement 'I can identify with the woman in the ad' when shown 'Nobody needs', but only 47% agreed when shown 'Utterly, deliciously'.

 

Similarly, 32% made a spontaneous positive comment about product taste when shown 'Nobody', against 18% for 'Utterly'. This was despite the fact that the photography, actress and product description were identical.

 Most importantly for the advertiser, these differences in response to the ad carried over into markedly different attitudes towards the brand (Exhibit 2).

EXHIBIT 2: RESPONSE TO THE BRAND

Opinions

Per Cent Agreeing
'Nobody needs'
'Utterly, deliciously'

Sara Lee makes high-quality desserts

92
76

Sara Lee desserts are really indulgent

100
84

Sara Lee is moving with the times

82
55

It improved my opinion of Sara Lee

24
14
Source: Consumer Insight


The Power of a Strong Endline

In short, the choice of endline had a crucial effect on almost all levels of consumer response to the brand.

Why did this happen?

One explanation for the scale and breadth of these differences might be that consumers suspended some judgment on the ad until the end of the two showings of the commercial, and then edited their reaction (positively or negatively) in the light of the 'quality' of the endline. If so, this would suggest that the endline may, in fact, be a crucial element in the way in which consumers deconstruct an ad and access its message.

 The alternative explanation would be that having seen the endline once, reaction to it was fundamental to consumers' receptiveness to the whole ad on subsequent viewing.

 

If the endline failed to work first time, then this acted as a block to their involvement with the ad subsequently. This would, in turn, suggest that the role of an enjoyable, involving or challenging endline may be critical in affecting ad impact and wear-out &endash; perhaps to a much greater extent than is normally expected.

The methodology used makes it impossible to decide which of these explanations is the right one in this case. In all likelihood there is an element of both present.

In either case, the purity of this test &endash; where the endline was the only possible variable, and where varying it produced such a clear difference in reaction to the ad &endash; clearly indicates the power of a strong endline to affect all aspects of consumer involvement and response. However unfashionable a conclusion that may be.

APPENDIX

Sara Lee script

Video
Audio

Close-up of a Sara Lee Individual Double Chocolate Gateau. It looks very, very tempting indeed. Not quite perfect, some of the cream is oozing out, but absolutely delicious.

Voice Over:

Behind the cake, a woman's face appears.

You don't need one of these.

She walks forward and we realise that the cake is, in fact, an individual size.

 

You don't need it.

Cut to some clothes drying on a rotary line turning in the wind.

 

What you need is to iron that lot.

Cut to an empty shopping trolley rolling past the cameras. Empty, that is, except for a baby in the carrier seat.

 

And you need to do the shopping.

We cut back to the woman looking intently at the Gateau.

 

But you don't need a Sara Lee Individual Double Chocolate Gateau

Next the woman is standing in a room with the light flickering.

You need to change that light bulb is what you need to do.

 

Then she's rushing around the room so quickly that she's a blur.

 

And a bit more time, that's what you need.

 

Now we return to the woman and the cake.

 

But you don't need two layers of Sara Lee's moist chocolate cake.

 

Suddenly, with a mischievous smile, she leans forward and sticks her finger into the cake.

 

... not need you don't.

Cut to the Sara Lee Individual Double Chocolate Gateau pack.

 

 

Title appears: Nobody needs Sara Lee.

Nobody needs Sara Lee.




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