Magazine article Marketing

A Question of X Appeal

Magazine article Marketing

A Question of X Appeal

Article excerpt

Brands pay a premium to reach big audiences, but cutting through is less simple.

Earlier this month, The X Factor drew its biggest audience to date, outside a final, when 17.7m viewers tuned in to watch Cher swagger, Katie weep and Aiden pull some mightily unpleasant faces, then cry 'fix' when voted off.

While not everyone will admit to being a fan of the talent show, its appeal spans generations, gender and socio-economic backgrounds. Nintendo says The X Factor presents a mass-marketing opportunity in the UK akin to that of the Super Bowl in the US; but just which consumers are represented in this audience, and how do they engage with the show and those brands who advertise in the prime ad spots?

A survey of 1500 viewers of The X Factor, conducted this month by research firm Brand Driver exclusively for Marketing, found that the show's viewers can be broken down into three categories: 'passive viewers', 'fan voters' and 'fan social networkers'.

According to Brand Driver, this is the first in-depth glimpse of The X Factor audience, beyond its demographic composition.

Limited recall

'Those 'fan' viewers who are the most engaged with the show have a better chance of remembering the ads,' explains Brand Driver managing director Karen Wise. 'The more engaged that people are with The X Factor, the more responsive they are to the ads. This will be reassuring to advertisers, who are looking to grab every opportunity to reach their audience.'

Overall, spontaneous recall of ads during The X Factor is low, however. While about half of viewers across all groups were able to recall TalkTalk as the programme's sponsor, other advertisers proved harder to remember - even Nintendo, which has used stars including 2008 X Factor runner-up JLS to front its ads, scored only 0.1%.

In fact, it appears that the popularity of the show could be what makes ad recall harder.

'The scale and momentum of The X Factor mean that a lot of advertisers are attracted to it,' says Wise. 'As a result, they may lose impact amid the other brands, despite the large audience numbers - they need to fight harder to stand out.'

Yeo Valley's comparatively high recall rate of 2% reflects the 'talkability of the brand' at the moment, says Wise, adding that the 'rapping farmers' in its ad have created content that some viewers will look out for specifically, giving it 'extra currency'.

While the prime-time ad spot is enticing for advertisers, the findings suggest that it may not be right for all brands.

'Advertisers should be looking at buying airtime according to when their core target market has real engagement with a TV show,' suggests Wise. …

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