Online Brands

TV Ad Explains Where the Surname “Ramsbottom” Came From

Here’s a funny TV ad launched by Trade Me Jobs:

The ad definitely hits the humour element well.  It’s interesting to see Trade Me using TV advertising.  Being NZ’s most dominant online brand, Trade Me has successfully grown its business without the use of TV advertising in the past.  It primarily focused on a clever PR strategy, getting valuable media attention over any auction that went viral.  This strategy followed perfectly the advice from Al Ries and Laura Ries in their best-seller The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, which states “The birth of a brand is achieved with publicity, not advertising”  (#3 The Laws of Publicity).

Now it seems, as with many mature companies, it is including TV advertising in its marketing mix.  This also follows the teaching in The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, with Law #4 The Law of Advertising which states, “Advertising is a powerful tool to maintain leadership and protection from competition”.

For the majority of companies, I don’t recommend TV advertising. It can be a quick way to waste money.  However, with Trade Me, there are some things they’re doing well with their TV ad endeavours.

They’re Not Overspending

Firstly, it doesn’t appear that Trade Me are spending a huge amount on this medium, which I think is a good thing.  Too often companies expect too much from TV advertising, and spend far too much on this medium.  

While I don’t know what Trade Me has spent on these ads, I do note that they uploaded the advert to YouTube eight months ago, yet I only just saw the ad on TV for the first time last week.  Presumably they would have first launched it on TV at the same time they uploaded it to YouTube.  Of course, this is far from an accurate measurement of their ad spend, but it indicates to me that they haven’t wasted millions on TV advertising.

They’re Not Trying to Establish Their Brand

Another thing they’ve done well, being an online company, is that they’ve waited until they’re an established brand before launching TV adverts.  Too often online companies launch their business and decide that the best way to get hundreds of thousands of people flocking to their site is TV advertising.  But it just doesn’t work that way, and companies that launch like that seldom survive.  TV advertising is very difficult (though not impossible) to generate direct response from. Especially for unknown brands.  If you want to use TV ads to become an established brand, be prepared to spend millions of dollars on an ongoing basis.

Trade Me aren’t relying on these ads for people to find out about them.  So what are they for then? …

Increasing Front-of-Mind Brand Awareness

The ads are focused around one thing:  Helping keep Trade Me Jobs at the front of people’s minds when they want to look for a new job.  There’s no extra message in the advert about Trade Me Jobs that you didn’t know before watching it. There’s no specific promotion they’re advertising.  They’re simply wanting you to remember them when you are looking for a new job.  They’re maintaining their leadership.

I need to point out, that this is NOT a good strategy for small businesses, because small businesses need to expect a return on every dollar of advertising.  But this is a good strategy for large established businesses, that aren’t relying on this advertising to directly or immediately grow their business.

In Trade Me Jobs’ case, their primary battle is against direct competitor Seek.  And spending some of their budget on TV advertising could be helpful in edging up just a few more points against their direct competitor over time.


Resources mentioned in this article: