Strongest creative reputation. Since our inception in 1991, we have arguably been the most creatively honored agency in the country, year after year. We have been named “Best Mid/Small Size Agency in the U.S. for General Excellence” six times by the 4A’s. This is a record that no agency, large or small, can match.
Balanced approach. Our agency is not headed up solely by a creative person, who might seek solutions that are not strategically sound, or by a businessperson whose views may not result in the best creative work. In our company there is a balance, which results in a highly strategic product that also meets the challenge of being unforgettable.
We Search for Truth. Our philosophy is based on a view that our job is to capture a truth either about the product or the consumer that will resonate. What works, and we have proven it time and time again with all of our clients, is the need to find and hit a consumer nerve that resonates as valuable, truthful and unforgettable.
‘Absence of a Negative’ Advertising and Consumer Research
Advertising often feels like a ‘sea of sameness’ where it is almost impossible to distinguish brands within a category from one another. In today’s data and research driven world, it may seem a bit surprising that brands don’t work harder to differentiate themselves. The problem is that there can often be a discrepancy between the perception in consumer testing and actual consumer behavior, particularly when it comes to ‘absence of a negative’ advertising.
‘Absence of a negative’ advertising is a simple concept. It sets up the current, flawed state of a business or industry, then presents your offering as a better alternative that knocks down the status quo. This is a simple comparison with a clear message, but consumer research often discourages it. Focus groups and preliminary testing can make it seem like ‘absence of a negative’ will not work, even if it is effective.
The reason why is because the message often gets panned by consumers in focus groups or surveys. The message that something is wrong in the industry and that your company solves that problem comes across loud and clear, but consumers still react negatively during testing and criticize the ad, even if their willingness to buy has gone up. Pressing consumers further, they often admit that the language forces them to think they have been making a mistake in their decision making, which is embarrassing and hard to admit. Instead of thinking about whether the ad made them more likely to buy the product, they say they don’t like the ad because it makes them question themselves. The advertising can still be extremely effective in influencing consumers to choose your product, but that can often be overlooked by people reacting negatively to the ad in research. This is something advertisers must be aware of when evaluating consumer research.
For example, here are a couple of older CarMax spots that present a view of the retailer that clearly differentiates it from the status quo in their industry. Of course, this retailer needs to feel different than traditional dealers. Attempting to advertise a positive presentation would get lost in the ‘sea of sameness’ of dealers making the same claims and research would overstate its effectiveness versus a better comparative message.
Another example is our National Thoroughbred Racing Association radio campaign. It wasn’t a purely ‘absence of a negative’ campaign, but we incorporated elements of that idea into it, in order to highlight going to the track as an alternative to a traditional night out.