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Media Redefined: The distracted consumer may be your best bet

by Martin MacGregor (@MartMacG) The other day I drove the R71 from Tzaneen to Polokwane. It is a fascinating journey from affluence, to rural sprawl, to semi-urban density. It touches large and lush citrus farms, the headquarters of the Zionist church and the massive Peter Mokaba stadium. But, more than the places, are the people. Everywhere one looks, people are on the move walking, catching taxis and driving.

Intrigued by what I see

I travel a lot and I’m always intrigued by what I see. Any time spent in a global city (South Africa included), the first thing I note is the time most people spend commuting and the multiple commuter environments they find themselves in.

In rural hubs, as one sees on the R71, the commuting might be less sophisticated but the time spent is probably longer. Wherever one looks, there is a great sense of movement.

The prevailing thinking in advertising is still that messages are more impactful when consumers are fully attentive. This is one of the main reasons that TV has attracted such a disproportionate amount of spend. It seems logical and the right thing to do. But, in recent years, the trend globally has been away from the “couched consumer” to the catching them on the move.

Reasons for shift

Why this shift? Two very good reasons.

First, people are more out and about. Mobile has lifted the need to stay at home to connect. Entertainment, information, content and the ability to simply phone someone may happen anywhere, anytime.

Secondly, and more intriguingly, is a notion that the Distracted Consumer is the alert consumer. Yes, the relaxed, on-the-couch brain may be undistracted, but the message is less likely to stick.

A moving person is a thinking person, stimulated by a constantly changing environment. Whether in a car, a taxi, at an airport or on foot, it’s a good time for a brand to strike and for a message to linger.

Interesting opportunities

This has opened up a myriad of interesting opportunities. Social media platforms are an obvious beneficiary, but it has also helped revolutionise old media such as radio. It has allowed for much more listener interaction and creative solutions. Good old billboards have benefited, too, especially as more and more of them are able to offer production-lite digital solutions.

To be honest, the advertising that has stuck the most for me in the last year has been on the Tube in London and on the Gautrain in Jozi. Simple, effective and beautifully crafted creative that made an impact upon my stimulated brain.

Next time you have a choice between taking the highway or a more-interesting alternative, try the road less travelled. It might open your eyes to different ways of reaching consumers. And trying something for your brand, other than TV, might make all the difference.

Martin MacGregor (@MartMacG) is managing director of Connect, an M&C Saatchi Company, with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Martin has spent 18 years in the industry, and has previously worked at Ogilvy and was MD of MEC Nota Bene in Cape Town. He contributes the monthly “Media Redefined” column, in which he challenges norms in the media space, to

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Media Redefined: The distracted consumer may be your best bet


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