For those not familiar with the term, ‘matching luggage’ refers to advertising campaigns where the same concept is used in a number of different channels. For example, an image from the TV commercial may become the billboard, one of the characters from the commercial may voice the radio spot… and so on. It’s generally used as be a pejorative term, but occasionally I have to stifle a smirk when a client earnestly requests some matching luggage as part of an integrated brief.
There are two simple reasons that advertisers like matching luggage. Firstly, it’s often easier, cheaper and faster to execute one concept and then repurpose parts of it for use in different channels. Secondly, there is an obvious appeal to the notion that seeing the same thing in different places will ‘reinforce’ the messaging.
There is a slightly more complicated reason that more progressive marketers often don’t like matching lugga ge. As media channels become more diverse and functionally distinct (think of the difference between a broadcast TV commercial and an interactive website), it makes sense to do different things in each channel, playing to their individual strengths. That may mean that one concept will live well in broadcast audio-visual channels, but a very different concept will be more effective in interactive text-based channels like SMS. In response to anguished cries from old school creatives about single-minded messaging, the new school tell us that as long as the core idea that lies behind the concepts remains true, consumers don’t need their luggage to be matching.
But I digress… I've got a more basic beef with matching luggage. I don't get it.
Every day I see ads… on the street, in magazines, online. And I don’t get them. Not (I like to think) because I am particularly stupid. Simply because I don’t watch enough TV.
The catch with matching luggage is that almost invariably the TV commercial is the core of the campaign. It tells the story from which frames, characters, or lines are snatched and shoehorned into other less ‘exciting/powerful/creative-friendly’ media – from bus sides to banner ads. So if you don’t see the TV commercial… you just don’t get it.
I don’t think I’m the only one. I’ve seen lots of ads for Tivo recently, as the time-shifting revolution creeps up on us Aussies. I’m pretty sure Foxtel IQ is going to put a dent in the amount of TV ads people actually see. DVD sales and online downloads (legal and illegal) of TV series continue to climb as we learn to hoard and binge rather than relying on scheduled programming. And at the end of the day, many of us (teens and young males in particular) seem to have better things to do that watch telly.
For more and more Australians, in a fragmented, technology-empowered media landscape, those beautifully crafted little thirty second stories are becoming an anachronism. That’s not so bad – there are still plenty of places to get a message to us unsuspecting consumers. But if advertisers continue to rely on us having seen their thirty second spot, then when we read that print ad, glance at that billboard, or open that direct mail… we just won’t get it.
(cross-posted from the Naked Communications blog)