How Behavioural Economics is Applied to the Lipton's 5-minute TV Ad


TV ads are dead. No one watches TV nowadays or pays any attention to the ads. Probably it an area where your advertising budget is wasted.

This statement is partially true.  TV ads are still working if you can manage to apply behavioural economics approaches. What is behavioural economics? It explains why we make irrational decisions for rational reasons.

On 7th January, 2018 around 20.30, Lipton (the tea brand of the Unilever Group) released a 5-minute advertisement on 17 different Turkish TV channels. Yes, it was a full 5-minute ad! The campaign was aimed at the Turkish consumer, where Lipton is trying to increase its market share and revive the brand. 

This is something quite unusual and it sounds rather shocking. Running a 5-minute TV ad on prime time, with the ad being played at the same time on more than five different TV channels!

However, the Lipton 5-minute ad was a nudge campaign. This turned a boring ad into a viral online campaign. A nudge is a minimalist intervention by revising a design/text with a minimum budget that creates a huge difference.

The campaign's title was "Let's start talking now" #KonusalimArtik. The first 45-second was the story and narration about the lack of conversation among people. After that, you see a tea pot is boiling on the cooker, you can easily see the tea bags inside the glass pot while people are talking. 

At the same, you see the Lipton logo with the hashtag #KonusalimArtik.  This lasted for 4 minutes and 15 seconds! In the first couple of seconds, you might be thinking something was wrong at the TV station, but the footage wasn't in a loop or stuck, it was streaming! When you switch to another TV channel, you see the same thing! When that happened, people were really shocked!

You might be thinking 4-minute and 15-second is not a long time. If you interpret the ad in terms of Einstein's theory of relativity, that 4-minutes and 15-second would feel like the longest 4-minute and 15-second ever. Your brain is trying to figure what is going on and trying to understand the situation. 

This is explained by the Kahneman's Autopilot and Pilot systems. When you are watching a TV, your brain is on autopilot and doesn't pay attention to the ad. However, when something goes wrong as appears to be the case in this one, your brain switches to the pilot system and tries to figure out what is going on. At that moment, the ad captures the attention of the people and motivates them to take action. 

The 4 minutes and 15 seconds part of the advertisement was the nudge part when the viewer’s brain was trying to figure what to do and what was going on. As the hashtag was present, people started to tweet. During that time, I started to monitor Twitter and the tweets flowed like a river. It was impossible to keep track with the human eye. 

So, what happened after this campaign? First of all, the campaign is still running but with a shorter version. You can't change people's mind with a single run campaign. You have to run it for at least a week or ten days so that they won't forget. During the campaign, a word-of-mouth conversation is initiated. People created content on social media about the brand in order to express their views and thoughts. When doing this, brand awareness was increased. People remembered the Lipton brand, and might have changed their perception towards the brand thanks to the creative ad. 

In terms of profit, brand loyalty is increased, and people are more likely to buy Lipton tea when they visit a supermarket. Or they may wish to drink a tea after this ad, and if they don't have any tea at home, they are going to buy the Lipton brand. Lipton initiating a signal for tea inside the brain, and this resulted in action.

In the 1960s, an advertiser said that 85% of ads are useless and they never add value. It is still true. Most of the ads you see and probably dislike, are the 85%! They are not creative, they are not designed to alter human behaviour. Basically, they are waste of resources and time. In order to switch to the 15% of the ads that work you need to understand human behaviour and utilise the behavioural economics approach. 

Some of you might be saying that Unilever has a massive advertising budget and they have the freedom to run a 5-minute ad on national TV channels during primetime. You are also aware that your company doesn't have this ability and you can't do something like this. Actually, you can! Social media advertisements are affordable and accessible to everyone. The key points are creativity, understanding people and utilising behavioural economics.

This process is not easy and takes a long time to do. In the case of many brands, they won't see the value of this type of work. When they see a simple campaign like Lipton’s, they won’t see the value. However, the best campaigns that work really well are the simple ones. The complicated campaigns never manage to bring the expected results to real life. Therefore, focus on creating a very very good campaign instead of delivering lots of low quality campaigns. 

Unilever took a risk and ran a campaign like this and they were successful. So, why don’t you do the same.

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