Can ads save the economy? Consumers say yes

Canadians love ads - almost as much as voicing their opinion on them. An Ipsos Reid poll that shows consumers believe advertising will help kick-start the economy, and this positive image, says Canadian Advertising Week chair Claude Carrier, is in part due to a newfound dialogue with the ad world.

The economy may have been tough on advertisers last year, but public opinion wasn’t. According to an Ipsos Reis poll commissioned by the Institute of Communication Agencies (ICA), 69% of Canadians say ads play an important role in consumer spending. Most Canadians also believe that advertising promotes the green movement (71%), elicits national prid, and keeps drunk drivers off the road (78%).

This is the first survey of its kind for the ICA, says Claude Carrier, Advertising Week chair and VP at Bos Toronto, and its purpose is to reaffirm the importance of the industry and help attract new creative talent to the business. He believes the overwhelming support for advertising comes from a newfound understanding of the role it plays in fostering a healthy economy.

‘In the last year people have gone through a recession, and everybody’s saying, ‘we have to get the economy going because we all want to have a better life,” he tells MiC.

Another reason for the positive attitude is the ability for consumers to enter into a dialogue with advertisers.

‘If a company has a misstep in advertising, they get nailed overnight. You get fast and immediate input from all the audiences,’ he says. ‘TV and web are the most prone to that now – TV because of its reach and web because of YouTube,’ he says.

This summer, Coors and Mr. Sub both yanked ads after receiving ‘fast and furious’ complaints from consumers. But despite these setbacks, Carrier says the communication has benefited the industry overall. ‘If you have dialogue, it means people are invested and interested. I think it’s very positive.’

Brands that most consumers conjure when asked about Canadian pride are Molson, The Bay, Tim Horton’s and Canadian Tire. However, Carrier thinks this has more to do with those companies’ ubiquitous media presence than specific campaigns, because it helps consumers think of those companies as successful.

The Bay’s top-of-mind status with consumers is certainly no accident, Hudson’s Bay Company VP of marketing, Patrick Dickinson, tells MiC. The Bay has been running a highly targeted, multi-faceted media campaign to promote its new brands and new look, using a mix of traditional and untraditional media to redefine the brand in consumer’s minds.

When it comes to brands that had most memorable or persuasive ads, humour and emotional connection are cited as key ingredients (78%). Brands like Budweiser, Telus, Pepsi, Coke and IKEA are all mentioned. Traditionally, the medium through which advertisers could channel this emotion has been television, says Carrier, but now the power of video has also moved online.

‘Everybody is trying to understand better how to use video and how imagery – moving imagery – how powerful that is,’ he says.