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COVID-19 calls for rapid pretesting of your TV creative

Even in the best of times, putting the wrong message on TV can have significant impact to your brand. It seems like just yesterday Peloton was publicly skewered for a TV commercial. Obviously, they could have avoided becoming a late-night punchline had they deployed pretesting of the idea before they spent millions producing and running said ad.

 

Now add a worldwide pandemic.

For very understandable reasons, the world is freaking out. And a record number of eyeballs are glued to their television sets. At the same time, the cost for running a TV ad is at historic lows. It makes sense that some brands are looking to TV to connect with their audiences in these turbulent times. There is a wealth of academic papers that demonstrate the power of brands that keep spending through downturns of the economy. We know that brands that continue to spend come back stronger than those that do not.

But with news of the coronavirus shifting so quickly, and TV viewers watching with heightened sensitivities, it’s critical that brands pretest their creative. Assuming we as marketers can predict how consumers will react to our messages in these unprecedented times will most likely lead to the bruising of our egos and a bruising of the brands we steward.

 

Creative pretesting demands reinvention.

The counter argument to creative pretesting during a crisis is there simply is not enough time. Over the decades, pretesting for TV has become bloated in time and expense. While every part of the creative process has gotten faster over the years, the pretesting of creative has not. Thanks to technology, we can shoot faster, edit faster, and color-correct spots from our iPhones. It’s amazing. But creative pretesting remains the slow molasses of marketing.

Some performance brands, understandably frustrated with the time it takes to pretest, skip the process all together and opt for live A/B testing of their TV commercials. While this gets your messages to market quickly, the cost of producing and running those commercials is hard to stomach knowing you’ll need to cut the losers. And you still risk immense brand damage airing a message that resonates in a sour way with your customer.

 

Need for speed.  Now more than ever.

As an All-Inclusive TV agency, our risk runs even deeper.  We pay for the cost of TV production out of our own pocket.  Every dollar.  Figuring out the right TV concept that will drive performance and build a brand BEFORE spending the money to produce and air isn’t just a good idea for our clients, it’s critical to make sure we are making the right investment as an agency.  Over the past several years, we built from the ground up a TV pretesting platform that was not only highly predictive, but gave results faster than anything we could find in the market. 

As proud as we may have been about our pretesting technology and methodology, the coronavirus epidemic has demanded more. Given the ever-shifting tide of the pandemic, we needed to go further. Go faster. Go deeper.  So, we introduced a Rapid Response TV offering that gets existing and new clients on air, with pretested creative, in days. 

 

There’s enough uncertainty in the world today -- your creative messaging doesn’t need to contribute to it. Being agile doesn’t need to come at the expense of being responsible. As marketers, now more than ever, we have an invitation to reinvent everything. And creative pretesting has been long overdue for an overhaul. 

Catrina McAuliffe
Catrina McAuliffe
SVP Brand Strategy

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