To Reduce, Reuse or Recycle…Your Ads

Marketing Executive Holding ProductIn recent months I’ve noticed an uptick in what I consider recycled advertisements – those television spots that were new within the past year or two, but disappeared for quite some time. After an absence, these ads are back. While I can understand that ad budgets have shrunk within the past year, I think companies are overlooking the message that this strategy is sending to consumers. 

Reuse – So just how bad is your business?

Perhaps it’s my obsession with not using stale content or maybe it’s my love of a new and exceedingly creative ad, but reusing old ads makes me cringe. More accurately, it makes me skeptical. If I were to see a consumer electronics brand recycle an old ad after a few months of not advertising, my thoughts would immediately turn to how bad their business currently is. More importantly, if I buy a product from a company in these implied circumstances, will they be around to provide customer service if I need it?

Reduce – Why not try this?

If the budget is limited, why not advertise less frequently but invest in developing ads that break through the clutter and make a long-lasting impression? I would much prefer to consume a few amazing advertisements than many mediocre or duplicate ads. Yes, frequency of message exposure is key, but there are many lower- and no-cost alternatives that can be used to supplement brand building during an ad hiatus.

Recycle’s Best Friend – Repurpose

While reusing old ads and recycling the exact same content gets a bit irritating for the audience, there is no law against repurposing. Take the 60-second ad and cut it down into a few super short videos for Facebook and YouTube. Take a still of a frame from the tv spot and use it in a print ad. Stick some links to online content in your e-blasts. Get the idea? I only wish some of these ad reusing brands did. You can still have content that looks new without breaking the bank. And this alternative, while not generating unique content, is better than looking desperate and stale.

As marketing and communication budgets continue to shrink, I anticipate that reused and recycled content is here to stay. But what is the cost to the brand? Is it a loss of consumer faith? The perception of nearing extinction? Or, an implied lack of concern for delivering what the audience wants?

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