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Strategic Versus Tactica

Posted on July 31, 2003 and read 8,516 times

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It’s a war out there. Tactical commercials are dominating the airwaves like never before. Clients are using short-term ads to list things like: current specials; hours of operation; years in business; and parking details. Information like this is the cornerstone of tactical ads. The trouble is, tactical ads are disposable. The spots change constantly with little or no regard to continuity with previous ads. They run for a brief time then they’re gone – only to be replaced by another, completely different one. They’re forgettable. It’s a war of attrition.

Strategic spots, on the other hand, run day in and day out as part of a calculated, long-term plan. They never alter their slogan or jingle. These are the commercials we hear so often that, like it or not, we end up knowing the script by heart. Strategic ads are in it for the long haul. Once they’re produced, they’re allowed to run indefinitely – or t.f.n. And it’s the strategic commercials that stick. You would think that those memorable awareness builders would be the preferred way for everyone to promote their business and build top-of-mind awareness.

Why then do most advertisers use tactical ads? They’re more labour-intensive and need constant updating. And, they don’t build equity if they’re always changing. But every day, clients keep announcing a new sale, deal or product and the only thing consistent is the name of the company. This may not be an informed decision on the part of the advertiser. They might hear their competitor using tactical ads and they’re just following the pack. Sure, if the client is stuck with a warehouse full of snowboards that need to be moved, that’s what you’ll be advertising. But for long-term advertising, this isn’t the way to go.

The best campaigns use a blend of strategic and tactical ads. The strategic spots run all the time. When there’s a special event, a tactical spot that closely mirrors the strategic ad runs giving the details and urges listeners to act now.

You need to arm your clients with the most powerful ammunition in your arsenal. Suggest long-term, strategic advertising to raise awareness. Discourage habitual short-term advertisers from re-inventing the wheel with each campaign. By helping them become more educated, they will not only see the benefit of focusing their advertising, they’ll come to trust and respect your advice. It’s always been a war out there. But with some slight adjustments in your client’s approach, it’s a war you can win – one campaign at a time.


Wray Ellis is Director of Creative Services at the Radio Marketing Bureau.






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