Annoying television adverts. Do they influence your behaviour towards a brand?

We all come across them. Television adverts that annoy the hell out of us. You see the opening shot or hear the theme tune start and you are instantly reaching for the remote before you have to put yourself through the pain all over again. The first three that come to mind when it comes to annoying televisions adverts are:

I have come across a few people who have said they will refuse to visit these company’s websites or engage with them because they have found their adverts so annoying. Even if the company provides a solution to their problem, they will not go there. Seems a bit extreme but it is happening.

The argument from the marketing department may be that their brand awareness has increased because their adverts are so memorable, and that the additional sales generated from this increased awareness outweighs the lost sales in lost customers.

The argument from the customer’s point of view is that their experience and feeling towards the brand is so negative and annoying that they do not wish to engage at all. This will not only have an impact on short term sales but also long term.

The bottom line sales figure will answer the short term question, but in the long term gaining  a large number of brand advocates (if that’s what these companies really want) may be put at risk with this style of advertising.

So, over to you:

Which television adverts really annoy you?

Have they affected your behaviour towards the brand?

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  • Jason Stanley

    Interestingly enough I posted an article touching on this subject on my blog. The Go Compare seems to be the one advert that sticks out in my mind.

    Personally I'm not sure how affected I am by the marketing or advertising of a particular product. I tend to like a product for what it does for me rather than because it is 'deemed popular' or because it's a brand name. Don't get me wrong, word of mouth and exposure help me to recognise what is on the market but I don't feel advertising specifically changes my decision to buy a product.

    For instance I absolutely love the Cadbury's adverts (Gorilla playing the drums, kid's eyebrows song) but it hasn't enhanced their chocolate or made me even want to buy their chocolate.

    The same could be said for those adverts that annoy. I could easily see myself browsing the internet on any of those insurance sites regardless of the annoying tunes they use to promote themselves because I may need to compare or see what options are available.

    As long as your talking about an advertisement (annoying or not), the company behind the product will deem it successful as word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising.

  • Robert Pickstone

    I will have to check out your blog post Jason.

    I think you may be someone who tries their hardest not to let advertising influence a decision, and goes on the value of the product or service itself. I completely understand people trying their hardest not to let advertising affect them but an awful lot of people do let it affect them. Customers and potential customers can react emotionally to advertising. It was only a couple of hours ago that I aksed a friend if he would not visit a website based on their TV advert and he said without doubt. We are all different.

    I suppose we have to ask ourselves whether these companies see the negative emotional reactions have a negative long term impact on their brand? Clearly not or they would not have gone ahead with them in the first place. Despite plenty of frustrated customers, their bottom line must healthy to continue with this strategy (or you would think so).

    Cadbury's make great adverts by the way!

  • Sue Windley (@DangerousMkting)

    These adverts are a good example of when the advertiser managers to capture what he German's call a “OhrWurm” (direct translation is an ear worm) – a tune or ditty that worms its way into your brain and won't go away. All 3 ads above have the capacity to get under the skin – and whilst they will probably annoy a lot of people, advertisers are not ones to waste their client's money so the increase in new customer revenue will always outweigh any 'damage' the nay-sayers may cause. Like all things in life, it is only the tiny (extreme) minority who are bothered (annoyed) enough to make their objections vocal so whilst we may also whinge to friends as to how annoying these adverts are, their brand is in our brains and will probably influence our choice when it is time to buy!

  • inplymouth

    This is an interesting post, Rob. I'd like to suggest that the real issue is slightly different. Sue quite rightly points out that, despite the delivery mechanism (the advert) being annoying, the product enjoys success due to increased exposure. Let's not forget the viral effect of the “did you see that blooming ad last night?” remark after all.

    For me it's not the delivery method that is annoying – rather it is the product. If the product is an attempt to solve a problem that doesn't exist, I can't forgive it and my perception of the brand suffers.

    A topical case in point? Dettol are currently advertising a hands-free disinfecting liquid soap dispenser. What's wrong with soap? Clearly we can't risk touching the soap bar or dispenser in case we pick up germs.

    Hmm, Dettol, you've just lost the credibility that you've spent years accumulating as far as I'm concerned.

  • Robert Pickstone

    Hi Sue,

    I had never heard of the term “OhrWurm” – thanks for sharing it!

    In the vast majority of cases you would have thought in the short term revenue through new customers would outweight that lost by customers making a standpoint. I agree that the vocal minority can make quite a lot of noise too! Do you know of any cases when the bottom line had been hit in a negative way through this type of advertising, and do you think the impact differs when talking about long term impact rather than short term?

  • Robert Pickstone

    I would really like to see if the volume of 118 247 calls increased following these adverts. It is likely that they did but I wander if they rose as much as expected, and if the revenue made from the additional incoming calls match the investement made to run the campaign. It is likely that it did but I would still like to see the figure to back it up! Like I said to Sue – has there ever been negative impact on sales following an advert that falls under the anoying category?

    I completely agree with you on adverts for products that are not needed. Brand perception is bound to be damaged and I will try and keep an eye out for the Detol example you mention.

  • banksy6

    Hi Rob, like you I also get frustrated watching these adverts but I'm not sure if my buying decision has been affected by them. I recently needed car insurance and the annoying ad for gocompare came to mind. I never once thought to myself, that ad is really annoying so I don't think they can deliver a service. I gave them a chance and it was almost certainly the ad that got me there. The last ad is a funny one personally, the 118 guys have got my ear when it comes to that service. I regularly get frustrated when the only 118 number I remember is theirs despite being more expensive than many of the others. Perhaps Yell need to do more advertising :)

  • Claire Bryden

    I think I've succumbed to the 'We buy any car' advert and decided to see how much my car was worth. Now they won't stop sending me emails…they are as annoying as the advert too!! Ugh.

  • Robert Pickstone

    Hi Al,

    It looks like a lot of my friends who spend much time online and on twitter don't seem to be affected by this style of advertising but a few who don't use the web quite as much react differently. I know I am hugely generalising here! I am saying that those who comment on my blog are more rational than emotional! Better not let that one get out.

    I did find the 118 247 advert funny for about the first 10 times – maybe you have more endurance than me! Frequency must definitely be a factor in this though.


  • Robert Pickstone

    That doesn't sound good! What is so annoying about their emails? Do they get in touch very often?

  • Jed Langdon

    Great question Rob!

    I have had to think a lot about this before responding. My initial reaction would have been, “no way, I won't let those annoying adverts influence my behaviour and if anything will go out of my way to avoid products and services that annoy me”. But this wouldn't be the reality for the three adverts you have mentioned. Broadly speaking I see television adverts as serving companies for two promotional purposes: function and evoking emotion. The three adverts you have picked out all serve a function, but are only useful for people at particular times i.e. when needing insurance, when selling a car or when needing a telephone number. If these don't stick in the memory they will only ever prompt someone to use them if it satisfies their functional needs at one of that particular time, which would result in a very, very small and probably not noticeable benefit. However, because they stick in my memory they will probably be the first services I think of when I do require one of their functions. We all need one of these services at some point in our lives, so the benefits from sticking in the memory are very big and it becomes less important, if not irrelevant that the adverts are annoying.

    In contrast however, if an advert is looking to evoke an emotional response or attachment, for say a brand, a holiday or a luxury car, then an annoying advert would completely turn consumers off, because they are all about the way they make the consumer feel. Some great examples of this are Apple and Honda, but I am at a loss to think of any that are annoying – I will do my best to come back with an example though!

    Therefore, my conclusion is that the types of annoying television adverts you have identified work when function is more important than brand, but not the other way around, when feelings and emotional attachment are much more important.

    Thanks for getting me thinking about this, its a really interesting topic.


  • Robert Pickstone

    Thanks Jed. That is a really interesting way of looking at it and I can definitely see your point of view. Maybe the annoying adverts that “don't work” and which do not have a positive impact on the bottom line are the ones which are still trying to make an emotional attachment. I am at a loss too when it comes to identifying these adverts, which have been thought through and deliberately planned in this way, rather than just being annoying because of poor production and content.

  • Mphcoach

    Yep, I won't buy 'em either – especially the 118 guiys and the opera singer. But them I refuse to go anyhere that Ryanair fly either…

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  • Pantheros

    As a result of advertising I chucked my TV out and now just use my pc for catching up on the latest news and videos from utube, veetle and a few more.
    Modern-day tactics of interlinking companies and products reach new heights of subliminal pregramming that most epoloe seem to be blissfully unaware of….
    Sheeple being herded is a bit more precise…..

  • Jacob

    I hate the Compare the Market ad
    The meerkats are so annoying

  • David Matine

    How can we be sure if what the marketing companies are saying is true when we are not trying the alternative to compare the results with? No major TV station has agreed to only run simplified, low-volume commercials… I don’t even think any such things exist. We need to start promoting the idea of a consumer-friendly TV ad.

  • David Crocker

    I will not support products that have commercials that annoy me, why would I? It’s like donating money to the fire ant preservation society. I have even blocked channels that have an abundance of these Sponsers. So I hope they have fun with their psycho-babble reasoning. They’re not getting any money from me