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Message Strategies
MART 201 - Leanne Ross
Objectives
At the end of this lecture you should be able to:
Explain alternative creative strategies for the development of advertising
messages
Communications Strategy
“One of the hardest things to do is to persuade someone to give you money… The
art of being persuasive isn’t just about the wonderful words. It’s all about the
psychology. It’s about understanding who you are trying to persuade - their
values, their interests, what is important to them - and most of all, what’s in it for
them. How does what you’re proposing solve their problems or make their life
easier?”
(Belch et al., 2007)
This is why formulating the right message strategy is so important.
And in IMC, the message may have to connect in many different ways across
different media and marketing channels.
Where Message Strategy Fits
Next
lecture!
Where Message Strategy Fits
Message Strategy Defined
The major selling idea should emerge as
the strongest singular thing you can say
about your product or service.
This should be the claim with the
broadest and most meaningful appeal to
your target audience.
(Creative Strategy in Advertising, 2007)
Four Kinds of Messages (message typology)
Message Consistency
Message consistency is when
what the company says is
reinforced by what they
actually do and by what
others say about them.
The triangle represents three
points at which messages
come together to ensure
strategic consistency...
What happens when Innocent,
one of the most celebrated
brand stories of recent years,
“sells out “to Coca-Cola? Do
we still trust the same cheerful,
humorous copywriting on its
labels? Or do we dismiss it as
something glib and corporate?
Look at Nike. They went through a period of
being damaged by accusations of sweatshop
and child labour in their supply chain. But slowly
and surely they started to do more about it,
getting involved in more grass-roots activity,
giving them a reason to exist that doesn’t feel
like it’s only about selling us products…
They created the ‘Making’ app, asking the
questions every manufacturer should about their
supply chain  –  and importantly, they made this
available to any company for free.
Sadly, LGBT rights and not
uniform across the world.
Global brands must avoid a
contradictory stance in
different markets. In 2015
Apple found itself in
controversy over the Siri app,
which answered Russian
queries for nearby gay venues
with either silence or
negativity.
Message Structure
While it’s important to identify the type of message and how consistent it is, we
also benefit from looking at how the structure of a persuasive message can
influence its effectiveness;
➢ Order of presentation (first & last best remembered)
➢ Conclusion drawing (explicit conclusions more easily understood)
➢ Message sidedness (one or two-sides portrayed)
➢ Refutation (present both sides of an issue)
➢ Verbal versus visual characteristics (consistent = greater recall, inconsistent = grab attention, more
elaborate processing, but can reduce persuasiveness)
(Cover these more in next lecture: message appeal & execution!)
Central Messages
Sometimes consistency of message is represented across an IMC campaign
(which is a set of interrelated and coordinated marketing communications activities
that centre on a single theme or idea, but uses different tools and appears in
different media across a specified period of time).
In this sense the campaign theme is the strong idea - the central message that will
be consistently communicated in all IMC activities.
While some themes change often, a successful campaign theme can last for
years...
Message Strategy = What To Say
What to say is essentially about 3 things:
Message Strategy Statement
Message Strategies
Charles Fraser proposed a typology
of seven message strategies,
building on traditional advertising
approaches - it’s like a shopping list
to help advertisers think about what
message strategy would work best
for their target market or market
situation.
Generic Strategy
A straight product benefit claim
with no assertion of superiority.
Most often used when there is a
dominant brand in a category, so
instead of promoting the brand
you promote the category.
Brands may use this to attempt
to become synonymous with the
whole category.
Pre-emptive
Strategy
It’s all about being first, making a
claim none of your competitors
have, and therefore appears
unique.
Even when competitors try to
match the claim, they put
themselves in the weakened “us
too” position.
Usually in a growing or
awakening market where
competitive advertising is generic
or nonexistent.
USP Strategy
The idea of “unique selling
proposition” was developed by
Rosser Reeves.
These are superiority claims
based on a unique physical
feature or benefit.
It needs to be strong enough to
pull new customers to the brand,
and may force competitors to
imitate or be more aggressive.
Brand Image
Strategy
In many categories, competing
brands are so similar that it’s
difficult to find unique attributes.
So the message strategy used to
sell them is often based on the
development of a strong,
memorable identity for the brand
through image advertising.
Claims made will be based on
psychological differentiation,
usually symbolic association.
Inherent Drama
Strategy
This is about finding the “inherent
drama” or characteristic of the
product that makes consumers
purchase it.
It’s a way of expressing the
consumer benefits with an
emphasis on the dramatic
element of expression.
Positioning
Strategy
Advertising here is used to
establish or “position” the product
or service in a particular place in
the consumer’s mind.
Products can be positioned
based on their attributes,
price/quality, usage or
application, user or product
class.
Resonance
Strategy
This tries to strike a chord with
viewers, to evoke positive
associations or good memories
that they then transfer to the
product or service.
This is about endowing a
product/service with relevant
meaning or significance.
Affective Strategy
This strategy uses a purely
emotional approach. It pulls at
our heartstrings or causes us to
laugh, or stirs our guilt or our
shame.
This may come without a strong
selling emphasis in the
messaging.
Push vs Pull
Strategies
After Message Strategy...
Message strategy tells us what to say, but it is not a creative idea, a slogan or an
execution.
The big idea emerges from consumer insight. It builds on message strategy by
converting the “what to say” into an idea that makes the message relevant and
engaging to the consumer.
The big idea brings the message strategy to life.
Cannes Lion Film Grand Prix: Old Spice (2010)
Multi-layered Message Strategy (and execution)
Unilever was set to launch a big campaign for Dove Men+Care body wash at the Super Bowl 2010. With legions of loyal
female shoppers, Dove was in a great position to win big in the male body wash segment…
Ultimately this campaign was about starting a CONVERSATION between men and women about body wash...one that
celebrated the virtues of manly-smelling Old Spice over “lady-scented” brands (resonance).
But beyond messaging, the most important insight had to do with targeting. P&G’s own research had uncovered a startling
statistic: 60% of men’s body washes were actually purchased by women. This insight prompted them to broaden the target.
The final piece of the brief was a matter of approach. With body wash being a low-involvement category, they weren’t going
to meet their goals by simply generating awareness of Old Spice body wash among men and women. To move the needle
they needed to get the sexes talking about body wash (positioning).
In the hands of the creatives this ultimately led to the inception of “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” - the perfect
spokesman. A crusader against “lady-scented” body wash, his suave, charismatic ways appealed to both sexes… and his
“look at your man, now back to me” dialogue practically forced a conversation between ladies and their guys (affective).
Cannes Lion 9x Winner: #OptOutside (2015)
Message Strategy #OptOutside
Company COO Ben Steele: “Part of this job is about storytelling, but when you can take an action and show people rather
than just telling them, it can be really powerful." (Purpose-Driven Strategies = Inherent Drama)
The campaign wasn't powered purely by organic social mentions. VB&P agency created outdoor camping kits consisting of
"freeze-dried Thanksgiving leftovers" that its PR partner Edelman sent to chosen influencers in the hiking and biking
communities. It also partnered with a geo-mapping service to design a mobile site that helped less experienced outdoor
enthusiasts find appropriate locations in their area to enjoy the natural world.
The campaign launched in October with an internal all-staff email and a print ad in The New York Times. The ad quoted
naturalist John Muir, who wrote, "Over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home."
But the campaign truly took off after the TV ads and especially the meme generator went live (Resonance).
Steele positioned the underlying concept as one focused less on direct promotion, more on highlighting consumer choice
and “12,000 employees getting to spend the day outside with people they love.” The point wasn't to reject Black Friday
but to embrace something that mattered to REI (Affective). But the campaign led to a significant rise in membership,
which is ultimately far more important than any single sales bump for a business based on the cooperative model in which
customers effectively double as both employees and owners of the company.
“I think every organization and brand has their truth and their purpose. It can be hard to find, it takes courage to find it, but I
think you have to be willing to take that journey. At the same time, do the thing that’s especially hard for us as organizations,
to say not what I want from people, but what’s a truly relevant way of connecting with people. Where do you as an individual
and a community, and us as a brand or community, find a point of intersection? It’s hard work, but it’s important work we
have to do as an organization, as storytellers, as people who want to help brands connect with people.”
- Ben Steele, COO, REI

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IMC Advertising Message Strategies

  • 2. Objectives At the end of this lecture you should be able to: Explain alternative creative strategies for the development of advertising messages
  • 3. Communications Strategy “One of the hardest things to do is to persuade someone to give you money… The art of being persuasive isn’t just about the wonderful words. It’s all about the psychology. It’s about understanding who you are trying to persuade - their values, their interests, what is important to them - and most of all, what’s in it for them. How does what you’re proposing solve their problems or make their life easier?” (Belch et al., 2007) This is why formulating the right message strategy is so important. And in IMC, the message may have to connect in many different ways across different media and marketing channels.
  • 4. Where Message Strategy Fits Next lecture!
  • 6. Message Strategy Defined The major selling idea should emerge as the strongest singular thing you can say about your product or service. This should be the claim with the broadest and most meaningful appeal to your target audience. (Creative Strategy in Advertising, 2007)
  • 7. Four Kinds of Messages (message typology)
  • 8. Message Consistency Message consistency is when what the company says is reinforced by what they actually do and by what others say about them. The triangle represents three points at which messages come together to ensure strategic consistency...
  • 9. What happens when Innocent, one of the most celebrated brand stories of recent years, “sells out “to Coca-Cola? Do we still trust the same cheerful, humorous copywriting on its labels? Or do we dismiss it as something glib and corporate? Look at Nike. They went through a period of being damaged by accusations of sweatshop and child labour in their supply chain. But slowly and surely they started to do more about it, getting involved in more grass-roots activity, giving them a reason to exist that doesn’t feel like it’s only about selling us products… They created the ‘Making’ app, asking the questions every manufacturer should about their supply chain  –  and importantly, they made this available to any company for free. Sadly, LGBT rights and not uniform across the world. Global brands must avoid a contradictory stance in different markets. In 2015 Apple found itself in controversy over the Siri app, which answered Russian queries for nearby gay venues with either silence or negativity.
  • 10. Message Structure While it’s important to identify the type of message and how consistent it is, we also benefit from looking at how the structure of a persuasive message can influence its effectiveness; ➢ Order of presentation (first & last best remembered) ➢ Conclusion drawing (explicit conclusions more easily understood) ➢ Message sidedness (one or two-sides portrayed) ➢ Refutation (present both sides of an issue) ➢ Verbal versus visual characteristics (consistent = greater recall, inconsistent = grab attention, more elaborate processing, but can reduce persuasiveness) (Cover these more in next lecture: message appeal & execution!)
  • 11. Central Messages Sometimes consistency of message is represented across an IMC campaign (which is a set of interrelated and coordinated marketing communications activities that centre on a single theme or idea, but uses different tools and appears in different media across a specified period of time). In this sense the campaign theme is the strong idea - the central message that will be consistently communicated in all IMC activities. While some themes change often, a successful campaign theme can last for years...
  • 12.
  • 13. Message Strategy = What To Say What to say is essentially about 3 things:
  • 15. Message Strategies Charles Fraser proposed a typology of seven message strategies, building on traditional advertising approaches - it’s like a shopping list to help advertisers think about what message strategy would work best for their target market or market situation.
  • 16. Generic Strategy A straight product benefit claim with no assertion of superiority. Most often used when there is a dominant brand in a category, so instead of promoting the brand you promote the category. Brands may use this to attempt to become synonymous with the whole category.
  • 17. Pre-emptive Strategy It’s all about being first, making a claim none of your competitors have, and therefore appears unique. Even when competitors try to match the claim, they put themselves in the weakened “us too” position. Usually in a growing or awakening market where competitive advertising is generic or nonexistent.
  • 18. USP Strategy The idea of “unique selling proposition” was developed by Rosser Reeves. These are superiority claims based on a unique physical feature or benefit. It needs to be strong enough to pull new customers to the brand, and may force competitors to imitate or be more aggressive.
  • 19. Brand Image Strategy In many categories, competing brands are so similar that it’s difficult to find unique attributes. So the message strategy used to sell them is often based on the development of a strong, memorable identity for the brand through image advertising. Claims made will be based on psychological differentiation, usually symbolic association.
  • 20. Inherent Drama Strategy This is about finding the “inherent drama” or characteristic of the product that makes consumers purchase it. It’s a way of expressing the consumer benefits with an emphasis on the dramatic element of expression.
  • 21. Positioning Strategy Advertising here is used to establish or “position” the product or service in a particular place in the consumer’s mind. Products can be positioned based on their attributes, price/quality, usage or application, user or product class.
  • 22. Resonance Strategy This tries to strike a chord with viewers, to evoke positive associations or good memories that they then transfer to the product or service. This is about endowing a product/service with relevant meaning or significance.
  • 23. Affective Strategy This strategy uses a purely emotional approach. It pulls at our heartstrings or causes us to laugh, or stirs our guilt or our shame. This may come without a strong selling emphasis in the messaging.
  • 25. After Message Strategy... Message strategy tells us what to say, but it is not a creative idea, a slogan or an execution. The big idea emerges from consumer insight. It builds on message strategy by converting the “what to say” into an idea that makes the message relevant and engaging to the consumer. The big idea brings the message strategy to life.
  • 26. Cannes Lion Film Grand Prix: Old Spice (2010)
  • 27. Multi-layered Message Strategy (and execution) Unilever was set to launch a big campaign for Dove Men+Care body wash at the Super Bowl 2010. With legions of loyal female shoppers, Dove was in a great position to win big in the male body wash segment… Ultimately this campaign was about starting a CONVERSATION between men and women about body wash...one that celebrated the virtues of manly-smelling Old Spice over “lady-scented” brands (resonance). But beyond messaging, the most important insight had to do with targeting. P&G’s own research had uncovered a startling statistic: 60% of men’s body washes were actually purchased by women. This insight prompted them to broaden the target. The final piece of the brief was a matter of approach. With body wash being a low-involvement category, they weren’t going to meet their goals by simply generating awareness of Old Spice body wash among men and women. To move the needle they needed to get the sexes talking about body wash (positioning). In the hands of the creatives this ultimately led to the inception of “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” - the perfect spokesman. A crusader against “lady-scented” body wash, his suave, charismatic ways appealed to both sexes… and his “look at your man, now back to me” dialogue practically forced a conversation between ladies and their guys (affective).
  • 28. Cannes Lion 9x Winner: #OptOutside (2015)
  • 29. Message Strategy #OptOutside Company COO Ben Steele: “Part of this job is about storytelling, but when you can take an action and show people rather than just telling them, it can be really powerful." (Purpose-Driven Strategies = Inherent Drama) The campaign wasn't powered purely by organic social mentions. VB&P agency created outdoor camping kits consisting of "freeze-dried Thanksgiving leftovers" that its PR partner Edelman sent to chosen influencers in the hiking and biking communities. It also partnered with a geo-mapping service to design a mobile site that helped less experienced outdoor enthusiasts find appropriate locations in their area to enjoy the natural world. The campaign launched in October with an internal all-staff email and a print ad in The New York Times. The ad quoted naturalist John Muir, who wrote, "Over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home." But the campaign truly took off after the TV ads and especially the meme generator went live (Resonance). Steele positioned the underlying concept as one focused less on direct promotion, more on highlighting consumer choice and “12,000 employees getting to spend the day outside with people they love.” The point wasn't to reject Black Friday but to embrace something that mattered to REI (Affective). But the campaign led to a significant rise in membership, which is ultimately far more important than any single sales bump for a business based on the cooperative model in which customers effectively double as both employees and owners of the company.
  • 30. “I think every organization and brand has their truth and their purpose. It can be hard to find, it takes courage to find it, but I think you have to be willing to take that journey. At the same time, do the thing that’s especially hard for us as organizations, to say not what I want from people, but what’s a truly relevant way of connecting with people. Where do you as an individual and a community, and us as a brand or community, find a point of intersection? It’s hard work, but it’s important work we have to do as an organization, as storytellers, as people who want to help brands connect with people.” - Ben Steele, COO, REI