Finding Your Fifth Marketing Voice

When 60s folk rock group The Mamas & The Papas sang together, their harmonies produced a fifth voice. This group were so taken by this addition that they nicknamed it ‘harpy’. Terry Jones, from the infamous Monty Python, recently remarked in an interview that his team experienced the same phenomenon. Writing as a team it felt like they were writing for a new and district seventh voice. Pulling people out of thin air does sound a bit strange, but this interesting idea has actually influenced a marketing concept!

The Mamas and the Papas

There was a psychologist called Gestalt who was obsessed with the way people perceived. He coined the phrase ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. Essentially, it means that that our brains are able to fill in the gaps, influence what we are seeing with our own personal history and add additional meaning to a visual stimulus. Most of this research might have been created surrounding simple shapes with missing sections but it applies just as well to marketing.

Any marketing campaign will have multiple different audience touch points. It may be a street poster campaign accompanied by a bit of radio. Some promoted social media posts with an interactive experience set up in a popular audience destination. And there are probably some billboard thrown in somewhere with a bit of print advertising for good measure.

It is tempting to just roll out the same advertising design across all these individual touch points. It’s quick. It’s easy. But then there’s Gestalt . . .

If Gestalt suggests that the sum of the whole is greater than its parts, then that means that audience members exposed to a number of different campaign touch points should be able to get greater value than those who just see one. That’s not to say those people who only see one should have their experience compromised with incomplete advertising, but there should be some additional experience for people who see multiple iterations. It keeps them looking out for new advertising, interested in the next phase of the campaign and hopefully provides enough of an incentive to purchase a ticket (especially since these multiple view consumers are probably more likely to be in your target demographic).

These extra value campaigns can be complex. It can be rolled out like the very first Big Brother campaign which slowly revealed more about itself as eyes began to turn up in weird locations to remind the Australian public that Big Brother is watching. But it doesn’t need to be. It could be as simple as grabbing someone’s attention with different images used across a number of different advertising channels. It could be a slightly different message to provide something new to see. It could even be a new take on the advertising design . . . similar enough that viewers can still tell it is part of the campaign, but different enough that this novel stimulus grabs attention.

The last thing you want is to bore your audience with the same advertising over and over again. The more they see the advertising, the more they should want to buy a ticket. But that won’t happen if it all looks the same . . .