Does less advertising for Harveys mean fewer sales?

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: One of the effects of Harvey Norman’s cost-cutting in advertising expenditure is that the retailer’s high-impact, high-energy and high-rating commercials have become far less frequent on television and radio.

That much is obvious, but the true effect of less advertising on the marketplace is yet to be realised. With less exposure, consumers are less likely to know how many months interest free they can currently get, or whether one of Gerry’s famous five day sales has just kicked in – but that’s not the real worry. With Harvey Norman ads not dominating the airwaves, will customers forget about the retailer? Advertising expert and Ogilvy account executive Christopher Pascoe doesn’t think so.

“All brands, they position themselves in the market. Harvey Norman probably consider themselves the market leader – they’re probably not worried people will forget them,” said Pascoe.

One of the defining features of Harvey Norman advertising, and now pervasive throughout the appliance retailer industry, is the use of a catchy jingle. “Go Harvey Norman Go” has been the long-term jingle for the retail group, and it works for the brand three ways.

Firstly, it’s simple, sending a positive message about the brand without become muddled in detail. Secondly, it’s active and encouraging – although not directly saying, “Go to Harvey Norman, Go,” that’s the message it conveys. Thirdly, when played at the end of an ad, no matter the medium, it’s likely to get stuck in your head. Then, when a consumer does make the decision to buy that new Blu-ray, the Harvey Norman ideal is already planted.

“A jingle sets up the brand, and that’s important,” said Pascoe. “What sort of jingle you have depends on what the brand is. Harvey Norman’s is very memorable, it says exactly what it is. They’ve got the brand name in there as well.”

With this jingle’s exposure now greatly reduced, Pascoe cast the rule over some of the other players in this market.

Clive Peeters has been using “Clive Peeters, e-e-easy” in its commercials, but in a much more laid back, almost lounge style.

“It’s effective because it’s annoying, but it’s memorable – everyone knows it – some brands do that,” said Pascoe.

On a more light-hearted level is Bing Lee, which leverages the founders’ Chinese heritage with distinctly oriental “I Like Bing Lee”. Pascoe said this was “a bit more humorous – people remember it that way.”

Pascoe was less enthusiastic about Betta Electrical, which utilises just the brand name sung over a keyboard synthesiser.

“It’s only recognisable because of the brand name, the way they play it has no effect,” he said. “You may not recognise what it is if you just played it on a piano without the singing.”

Finally, Pascoe was most impressed with Strathfield Car Radio, which for a long time has advised customers to “drive in and jive away”.

“That’s very clever, because it’s got a play on words. Sometimes if you’ve got one that’s too long, it can become boring, people start to ask, ‘What’s the brand?’, it becomes confusing. This one is good though, it’s catchy.”

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