Michael Scantlebury at Impero: Mouldy whatter? Survey demonstrates how quickly consumers forget

From bush fires and the global pandemic to Trump v Biden and Brexit, there has been zero respite from news in 2020. With all of us preoccupied by very real health, political and climate concerns, head space has been squeezed this year, so — beyond the flagship news events of the year — have any major marketing moments, world events and brands managed to maintain attention?

In the second week of December, we commissioned a survey of 1,500 UK resopndents to chart the moments that have stuck in people’s minds, and the results are a sobering reminder that attention is hard to get, and even harder to maintain.

Of two of the most industry-hyped marketing moments of 2020, an overwhelming 83% of respondents said that they had never heard of or barely remembered Burger King’s magnificent (8.4 billion impressions) Mouldy Whopper from March.

Ocean Spray’s lucky break (and smart response) with the TikTok skateboarder made a slightly greater impact, but still 73% claimed not to remember or even have heard of the clip, despite Ocean Sprays’ massive sales jump when it went viral in September. Unsurprisingly, 18-24 year olds remember them best (one third) compared to only 7% of over 45s.

However, the brand Burger King fared better, because smart brands are relentless with stunts, ads and general noise, knowing that attention doesn’t last: a blockbuster Summer or Christmas campaign can no longer carry the weight of a year, or even a season. Amazon, which has been a constant presence in our lives this year, was the brand with the highest awareness of the seven surveyed.

Donald Trump’s impeachment and the Hong Kong riots each had double the impact of Megxit, with only 10% all respondents giving much thought to this seismic royal event. Survey data tells us that the iPhone 12 launch and the discovery of water on the moon also made a 50% bigger impression than Meghan and Harry’s move.

It is hardly surprising that 18-34 year olds remember more than older cohorts, because they are constantly connected to culture and content online. But now we’ve hit the end of the year, much has been forgotten by all demographics.

Brands that grab the world’s attention, and then do it over and over again, are the ones that will win. Because the news agenda will never slow down, we must constantly create cultural moments for our clients in order to keep them in people’s consciousness — sticking to the outdated model of seasonal TV first campaigns will be a nail in the coffin.

As we enter 2021 here’s another reminder that we mustn’t rely on one seismic campaign or hero moment to remain in consumers’ head space. Like riding a bicycle, the moment you stop pedalling, you will fall off.

Michael Scantlebury is founder and ECD at Impero

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