Teaser ads: much ado about nothing

Written by Geeta Rao | Updated: Feb 9 2006, 05:30am hrs
The ads scream for your attention but theres no brand name. The hoardings yell out to you as you pass bythey look tantalisingly familiar and yet reveal nothing, except the promise of more to come. Sometimes they wheedle a response out of you. Sometimes they work you into a tizzy trying to guess the author behind the works. It is suspense with a purpose and teaser advertising is a bug that seems to have bitten our fraternity yet again.

Recently, a spate of teasers ads had actress Kajol as the leader of the anti-Marie squad. Did we know anything about the anti-Marie squad and why it existed No way. All we knew is that Kajol had taken up cudgels against Marie eaters. Then the real story was revealed, a series of raids later. A new digestive Marie was replacing the traditional Teatime Marie biscuit.

HSBC is running a campaign for its home loans which started with a teaser campaign the home loan disorder series that got people talking and created empathy with its target audience.

Amby valley did it recently too. After showcasing a series of celebrities (a priceless gallery if Mr Roy has actually paid them their current endorsement fees), the Amby Valley project was revealed. Huge full page ads carried the message relentlessly without ever revealing the brand name. A waste of so much space in my opinion. They may have fared better to have the brand name upfront since not much was left to the imagination.

A teaser campaign works on the simple premise that you need to create a bit of a buzz before you can actually tell your brand story. It works when you have a guerrilla project to hijack the leaders position. It also works when you dont have a huge budget to sustain your brand later. And it most definitely works if you have a huge budget to sustain both the teaser and the brand campaign. But the trick to good teaser advertising is to get an aha out of the consumer when you finally reveal the brand name, not a bored oh-oh!.

Buzz generation is key to creating teaser ads. People notice it, it becomes a talking point over the office chai break, it gets written about in media and people start speculating about who could be the brand behind the teaser campaign. It is wise to give some hint. Usually, part of the logo or house colours are used so the public does not immediately think it is your key competitor sending a message. Especially in the case of new brands in the market.

There is no way of judging whether teaser campaigns are actually more successful but the timing is critical. DNA, the newspaper, carried its teaser campaign well past its use by date. Its launch got delayed and so the hoarding campaign went on and on and on with the citizens of the city asking for a change but without actually being able to tell you who would make the change in their lives. Thats the problem if there is some glitch in the follow-up campaign.

Keeping a teaser running for too long is hara-kiri and keeping it on for too short a time is as bad since you need some build up for the talk to reach tipping point. SBI ran a series of questions about itself as its teaser offering.

A mini quiz is always a good ploy to get people involved. It is also a good way of getting extra bits of body copy out of the way. And the final reveal was surprising since one did not think SBI had such a track record. One certainly did not think SBI added the population of Australia every year to its list of depositors and so on.

And then there was the famous Digen Verma campaign that ran about five years ago with everyone wanting to know who Digen Verma actually was. The agency and the client managed to keep the interest going but finally when the brand campaign was revealed it was universally felt that the teaser was more fun than the real campaign.

Next to celebrity advertising, which can prove to be very expensive, teaser advertising can be a great clutter-breaker. It can prove to be vastly entertaining and memorable if thought through clearly. The new media makes the use of innovative ideas possible and helps to keep the teasing going in different media zones all at once.

The author is creative advisor, the Mudra group