Context Is Almost Everything In Advertising

By | April 12, 2016

We have seen a lot of commercials that just don’t sell.  One reason can be the context of the message.

By context, I meant the executional elements that round out the message and provide a framework for it.

The strategy might be “Tide cleans clothes better.” But there needs to be an execution around that message.  That is the context in which the message is delivered.

A positive and relevant context strengthens the message.  Take this rustic message, for example, of an advertising offering that has a positive reinforcing context.

The rustic nature of the cabin and the equally rustic nature of the sign, including the sign material and lettering all add up to a convincing message that there are eggs and they are fresh.

The message is strengthened by the context within which it is delivered.  It is made more credible.  It is compelling.

When a commercial has relevant and supporting contexts to its message, it also becomes more effective.

There are many commercials that just have actors mouthing the strategy or promise without adding the kind of context that the cabin and rustic sign add to the “fresh eggs” message in the photo.  That leaves a lot of the power, credibility and charm out of the message.

And creating the right context is not all that difficult.  It is just another part of portfolio of skills professional advertising people manage.

What happens when the context is left essentially blank?

The message becomes a weak statement of the copy strategy.  What can be worse is a poor choice of context.
If we take the context that is eminently appropriate for the “fresh eggs” message and simply change the message, we get a ludicrous result.   Does anyone want to learn to be a pilot from a resident of a run down rural cabin miles from nowhere?

No, we want high tech, engineering, precision.  We don’t want to learn from someone with three teeth and a chaw of tabacky. Flying lessons may result from the moonshine still exploding!

On the other hand, that person may be an excellent source of “fresh eggs.”

In this case, all the elements that worked for the eggs message effectively destroy the flight training message.

This example shows how simply a change of context can impact on the effectiveness of a message.  Yet, many advertisers forget that all the elements of the advertising work together to create a single message.

This idea of context applies to the presenter of the message as well as the situation that the message is presented in.  The presenter is the context for the message.  The more relevant the claim is to the presenter, the more credible the message is.  When the announcer presenter is obviously just a presenter with no basis of claim, the message is less credible.

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