Great commercial. What was it for?

Being in the DRTV media industry gives me a unique perspective when people start discussing commercials they enjoyed seeing on television.

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Many times they say how funny or clever a commercial was. And I always ask, "what was the product being advertised?"

Nine out of ten times I get blank, thinking stares.  Then they’ll say, " I don’t remember, but I think it was for some company…”

That just kills me.  It hurts every bone in my body.

Some client paid good money for that commercial. They paid good money for the media placement. And the outcome is they entertained viewers. And that was about it.

Cue the age-old debate: how much steak and how much sizzle? The “sizzlers” argue entertainment sells; you feel good about the product, you’re more likely to buy. The “steakers” believe information is king. Tell ‘em, tell ‘em and tell ‘em again.

Can’t we all just get along?

Obviously, advertising clutter is the norm and eyeballs are being assaulted and fought over at every turn. So yes, you have to cut through and engage. Big time.

But you can never forget the importance of effective, efficient communication.

It comes down to finding the balance between entertaining and selling. At the end of the day, viewers need to know what the product is, the benefits they offer, and what they can do to buy it – call, go online, go to the store, etc. If your commercial isn’t making these key points clear to your target, why run it at all?

Ken Houdek is a SVP/Associate Media Director at A. Eicoff & Co., one of North America’s largest DRTV agencies.