The £10m Cost of Dull Advertising: Insights for Business Leaders

Advertising is at a Crossroads

Advertising has become increasingly dull over the past 15 years, primarily due to the dominance of performance marketing. Peter Field, a renowned marketing consultant, highlights that while any campaign can succeed with enough financial backing, a dull campaign can cost millions more annually to match the performance of an engaging one.

Why It Matters

“Dull is expensive commercially because you have to put so much more effort and money to land the dull message than an interesting one,” says Adam Morgan of eatbigfish. In their research, Morgan and Field, alongside System1, found that 48% of B2C ad responses are neutral, and a staggering 78% of B2B ad responses are similarly indifferent. This widespread dullness is not only financially burdensome but also exclusionary for both consumers and colleagues.

The Financial Impact

Field’s initial research, drawing from the IPA Effectiveness Awards database, estimated the cost of dull advertising to be £10 million. This figure is an average, with costs potentially doubling in specific categories where the share of voice (SOV) is more expensive. Campaigns that pursue dull advertising require far more significant budgets than their more exciting counterparts. Field reports that these campaigns can extend SOV by 11 points more than non-dull campaigns.

Key Takeaways for Leaders

1. Higher Budgets for Dull Campaigns: Campaigns with dull advertising have significantly larger budgets. This indicates a need for businesses to reassess their marketing strategies and prioritize creativity and engagement.

2. Costly SOV in Certain Categories: Buying SOV is already costly in sectors like retail and durables. A dull campaign in these industries could require an additional £20 million annually to achieve the same effect as an exciting campaign.

3. Corporate Metrics vs. Creativity: The path to dullness is often paved with good intentions. Corporate metrics can push marketers towards safer, more predictable campaigns, but this risk aversion can be costly in the long run.

4. Long-term Ineffectiveness: Years of focusing on performance marketing have delivered short-term gains at the expense of long-term effectiveness. A creative approach is crucial for sustainable success, particularly in top-of-funnel marketing.

A Critical Perspective

Peter Field sums it up succinctly: “We are not saying dull campaigns are ineffective. It is just that they do not work very hard. And you get a much bigger performance out of these more exciting campaigns – it can be six or seven times greater for every euro, dollar, or pound you put behind them.”

The True Cost of Dull (SOV)

The analysis shows that rational ads result in a +7.3 percentage point increase in market share growth and a +4.7 percentage point increase in profit growth compared to their dull counterparts. Emotional ads fare even better, leading to an +11.5 percentage point increase in market share growth and a +6.8 percentage point boost in profit growth.

For business leaders, the message is clear: investing in creative, engaging advertising is not just a nice-to-have. It is a financial imperative. The cost of dull advertising is staggering in direct financial terms and missed opportunities for growth and engagement. As the advertising landscape evolves, the emphasis should be on crafting campaigns that resonate emotionally and captivate audiences. The financial benefits of such an approach are undeniable, offering significantly higher returns on investment.

Business leaders must champion creativity and boldness in their marketing strategies, ensuring their brands stand out in an increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace. 

The cost of dullness is simply too high to ignore.

Previous Post Next Post