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Home / Blog / Strategy 101: Brand Vs Direct Response

Although it will be second nature to seasoned advertisers and marketers, the difference between brand and DR (direct response) advertising can be confusing to those venturing into broadcast ads for the first time  



When your audience talks about the adverts that grab them and demand the most attention, they will be most often referring to brand ads. Think John Lewis Christmas ads, the emotions they elicit and the positive feeling they want their customers to associate with their business.


When a large advertiser pulls out all the stops getting the best talent money can buy and a production execution to match, you can bet that what they want to build a lasting impression in the mind of their customers – they want to convey excitement and brand recognition above a direct no frills call to action.



Direct response includes many of the print adverts you’ll come across in local newspapers and radio spots, Facebook ads, PPC and remarketing as they have one specific purpose, and that is for the consumer, to buy a product upon being served the ad.


Direct response ads are more targeted and functional than their counterpart in that they are designed to elicit a response, as their namesake would suggest. They often list out features and benefits of a product, price, offers and local availability.



We examine below the latest campaign from BT, promoting their “family sim” offering.


Rather than trying to cram in a direct response element into a brand ad, they have simply created two ads that run in rotation, sometimes even within the same ad break.


The big budget Brand ad follows in the same vein as their recent commercials, enlisting a Hollywood actor portraying themselves in “behind the scenes” situations. In this case Jeremy Renner aka Hawkeye from Captain America, is in the midst of saving a family from an evil overlord, when he is interrupted by film crew to explain he is there to save the family money, rather than saving them from impending doom.


All very glitzy and well produced, that delivers high action and an element of comedy to raise awareness of the product.


This is in stark contrast to the Direct Response ad, which comes across more like a powerpoint presentation, albeit a very slick one, explaining exactly what the product is, cost and benefits to customer. It does not feature the Hollywood actor and only uses voiceover and graphics to promote the product.


BT have then gone one step further to hammer home their message.


On the campaign website landing page, they have an explainer video that goes into even more detail, leaving the customer in no doubt as to the benefit of the product and how they purchase it.  



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