Of all the words used to describe real people, ‘punter’ is one of the more evocative. There’s something about its sheer bluntness that appeals. Punters are grounded, down to earth, living in the real world and have no time for all that fancy advertising stuff. Punters tell it like it is. Punters drink strong builder’s tea not that herbal rubbish


When punters talk we should listen.

Recognising the power of the punter, Campaign magazine have been running “Punter Appeal” for some time now. Although it sounds a bit like a charity campaign in aid of punters, the premise is actually that they get members of the public to review ten pieces of work from one creative agency each week with a view to finding the ad with the greatest and least ‘punter appeal’. Punters are asked to give marks out of 10 for how impressed they are by the ad, how much the ad makes them like the brand and how much they want to share the ad with scores aggregated and averaged to find the winner.

It then falls to a Campaign journalist to write an accompanying analysis of the findings which, being skilled journalists that they are, typically finds an angle at the extremes of the overall rankings (last week it was X Factor’s idents proving the least popular work in CHI’s bunch).

But there’s another way of analysing the rankings which demands a closer look. There is rarely much difference between the best and worst ‘Punters Appeal’ scores. Again taking last week as an example the ad with greatest ‘punter appeal’ scored6.13 on average while the ad with least appeal scored 4.3. And in that narrow band sat all 10 pieces of work. This isn’t a one off either, most weeks the average score sits within a very narrow 4 to 7 corridor.

So the best ads aren’t loved as much as we might think.

And the worst ads aren’t hated as much as we might think.

It’s worth remembering that punters don’t seem to see the emotional extremes we’ve come to know and love in our industry when every other campaign is either ‘brilliant’ or ‘terrible’ (expletives excluded, this is a family blog…)

Could it be that we are prone to exaggerating slightly and getting caught up in a sense of our own self importance? Or, crazy as it sounds, could it just be that people have other things to be doing than thinking about advertising, engaging with brands and sharing great ads with their friends? Might it just be that punters aren’t really that interested? And if that’s the case is the ‘changing model’ we seem to talk so much about still a bit of a red herring? Shouldn’t we just accept that the examples held up as how things should be done in future will only ever be the exceptions? Isn’t there a realistic human interest level limitation of ‘earned media’ for nearly all brands that we’d all be wise to acknowledge? And how many questions is it reasonable to put into a single paragraph?

As we try to pick our way through some of these questions its worth keeping in mind that some of this may be down to methodology. Extremeness aversion means people will generally give an answer towards the middle when asked most questions. It’s safer and requires less thinking.

And if punters aren’t that engaged in advertising how likely are they to engage with surveys about advertising?

POSTED BY : David Wilding


One comment

  1. acupofteawithphd

    They are still only asked to review Ads. TV films, posters, print advertising. – Too right they are not that arsed! I wonder if the answer to tapping into a more emotional response might be to ask them to look at comms ideas?What did you think of Fruitstock? How does going to the cinema free on Orange Wednesday make you feel?Did singing to keep Team GB Pumped make you feel Pumped (ahem!)It says more about Campaign that they only show people ‘Ads’ than it does about what keeps PHD’ers debating what’s good and what’s not!

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