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STOP SHOUTING

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It has now become an accepted understanding that using capital letters in texts or messaging is like shouting, used for dramatic emphasis and implying a need to be heard, often in anger. But it doesn’t stop in our DMs, it’s everywhere.

We’re bombarded with advertising messages. Seemingly everywhere we go. Congratulations to anyone who successfully goes a day without seeing anything. I applaud you.

The more they bombard us, the more advertisers are challenged to find ways to stand out. But is being loud and overbearing really the way? Do they really think I’ll listen more if they’re metaphorically or literally screaming in my ears?

It feels that, in recent years, there has been a resurgence in overly bold, bright colours in advertising, often garish in fact. Ironically, this makes the ads that are simpler and more sophisticated in their delivery stand out for many observers, but it’s clear to see that instant visual impact is the name of the game in the realms of the cacophony.

Digital advertising started off as simple static versions of the ads we had previously put in print.

But now they have evolved, through necessity, to frequently include video or animation, not only to fight harder to catch our eye but also to create greater opportunity to tell a fuller story. And that may not always be a bad thing.

In terms of media placement, they explode into gaps on our screens, or just muscle their way in to find their own spaces to spear their message across.

Whatever the creative approach, they even follow us around, cunningly aware of the websites we’ve visited, tugging on our sleeves like an impatient toddler in the hopes of tempting us back. 

I know, I’m supposed to be a fan of the fact that all these options are available to us. And I am, believe me. But does so much of it have to be so rah-rah-rah?

I often see ads that are beautifully presented, with smart and sophisticated design and, more importantly, great messages that connect me to their brand with heart and soul. Many New Zealand brands do this so well, gently seducing us with clever thinking or with humour that leaves an enduring smile. While others make me want to wrap my arms over my head and hide from the world.

When the ads are 6 by 8 meters, towering above us in LED lighting, the shoutiness is even harder to get used to, don’t you think? Again, don’t get me wrong, digital billboards are a fantastic option for advertisers these days as they don’t break the bank, are located in prime high traffic positions and certainly have a strong visual impact. But are we turning into the Vegas Strip or downtown LA? Does the future hold miles upon miles of light pollution clogging our streets? Like most things, I hope we manage to maintain a balance.

I hate to confess it but, during lockdowns (I wasn’t going to mention it, sorry) I’ve got stuck down many a rabbit hole of paid posts and ads on social media.

Most of the time I felt like I was watching a mini shopping channel in the palm of my hand, with demonstrations and buyer testimonials from either the business owner, a promo person or a paid influencer. Too frequently, I came across what must be the social media advertising equivalent of the shouty-capitals. Over-enthusiastic endorsement, fast cut edits, music that induces those ear-worms that stick with you all day, eye-watering emojis and bitmojis and whatever-they-are-mojis and, of course, literal shouting.

Not all those ads were shouting at me, of course. Some were just talking. Constantly. Repetitively. Again. And again. And again.

Radio ads with jingles that can grate. Design that may offend us. Frequency that drives us to distraction. It may not be everybody’s cup of tea but clearly, it’s a strategy that works for some advertisers. Even if it is an approach I struggle to endorse as a general rule, there are certainly products and brands that need to take the capitalised approach in crowded marketplaces with time-poor audiences. 

As marketers, it’s up to us if we feel that this approach will resonate with our audiences. We have a responsibility to make sure the way we present our messages is authentic to our brands and delivered in a way we believe our audiences will appreciate and act upon.

We can all think fondly of quieter times in terms of how brands attempt to connect with us but, like the capital letter shouting in messages, the loud approach is, I suspect, here to stay.

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About Author

Vicki Jones

Vicki Jones is director of Dugmore Jones, Hamilton-based marketing management consultancy. Email vicki@dugmorejones.co.nz