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The key message is alive and kicking

7 April 2021

The key message

Sainsbury’s. Eat well for less. It’s one of the most famous slogans in Britain. You can’t avoid it if you’re in-store. Or watching TV. Or on the Internet. But if Sainsbury’s spokespeople never mentioned it during interviews for fear of cliché and being accused of gratuitous advertising, what would be the point of having it?

And that’s the conundrum. In order to actually measure how many times the phrase has landed, been repeated, popped up in other places – this blog for example – you’ve got to be able to get your spokespeople to remember and use the line. But to articulate it in a creative and realistic way. Media monitoring agencies like to produce quantitative analysis of a campaign’s effectiveness by matching a phrases occurrence in print or broadcast, with
an estimation of the corresponding cost of the ‘spot’, should you have to pay for it. In other words, how many people heard or saw the expression and what’s each consumer worth in advertising pounds. It’s much more difficult to measure feeling than it is to identify key messages when they appear in the media.

So it’s a marriage of discomfort. One which sees the qualitative and the quantitative collide head on. The temptation might be to eschew the phrase ‘safety is your number one priority’. Instead, reframing it as ‘the thing we focus on is making sure all our staff and all our customers are safe’. But if your firms key message metric is based on the former, you’re missing a trick.

The way around this is to use consistent themes, creatively woven around a number of ideas to get your point across. Remember, these are words for the ear to hear not the eye to read. In order for it to be relayed to the audience – even in print – someone has to gather them first. And that gathering is done by pen, iPhone, camera capturing words uttered by the human mouth.

Coaching the corporate world to crystallise their thoughts into useable nuggets for the media consumer is something we do every day. Don’t make it harder for yourself by ignoring your organisations demands to land your key identifiers, just make sure that your comfort and confidence in the delivery of those themes has a naturalness about it. Nothing works if the audience can see the ball before it leaves the bowler’s hand. The subtly of the ‘weave’ is what counts. That’ll get you 5 stars from the agency but also a wry smile from the reporter.