There is no such thing as a low interest category

You see it all the time - Client briefs, agency presentations, awards papers - the great cop out.

This is a low interest category.

It's the universal panacea, the ultimate excuse, the dog ate my homework of the marketing world.

No wonder the work is dull, the thinking is lame or the creative is vacuous it is after all a low interest category and we might as well all go home.

There is no such thing as a low interest category only low interest thinking.

I first aired this idea in the post on aphorisms and I thought it might benefit from an example.

A little while ago we worked for a windscreen replacement company called Autoglass.

Everyone thought this was the ultimate low interest category. No one is remotely interested in windscreens until they need one replaced and then its usually down to the insurance company to make the choice of supplier.

The previous agency in particular thought it was a low interest category (no names, no pack drill). No doubt they had a powerpoint presentation to prove this was the case because they clearly decided the only option was a little hollow salience for the brand. Hey presto hilarious ads in which we chortle at the sight of poor hapless people who have no windscreen and therefore have nothing to protect them from the attention of safari park monkeys. Oh how we laughed.

Low interest categories and brands are of low interest precisely because we haven't thought of anything to make them high interest.

Our planner - Giselle Okin - found out that your windscreen represents 30% of the structural integrity of your car. If your car rolls or the air bag goes off its the windscreen that protects you and gives the airbag something to work against. Fit a good windscreen properly and you potentially save lives.

End of low interest category and a platform for brand preference and most probably a premium to boot.

So never peddle or accept the notion that you are working for or in a low interest category. Suggest that the job of the agency is to get people interested and not in a few funny ads but in the very role that the brand plays in peoples' lives.


Good stuff Richard. However, can you think of any financial services examples?

Posted by: henry lambert at April 25, 2006 03:23 PM

That we continue to view money as low interest when it is so patently of very great interest kind of makes my point.

I love the Cooperative bank line at the moment. They have been an ethical bank for a while now (some would say since their inception) and have had an accurate but uninspiring line - something like customer driven, ethically guided.

However I have recently noticed that they have adopted the line - good with money. Now thats something I can get excited about.


Posted by: Richard at April 25, 2006 11:42 PM

I absolutely agree that money should be viewed as high interest. After all, the whole world revolves around it.

However, to say 'good with money' doesn't add much interest for me. The very fact that they're a bank means that being 'good with money' is a hygene factor.

There's real value in ethics but no one seems to be able to make it tangible.

Posted by: henry lambert at April 26, 2006 11:01 AM

I think that the Cooperative bank have absolutely used ethics to build a platform for preference amongst a particular high value audience and I think the genius of the line is that what would be a bland assertion for anyone else has real resonance in the hands of the Coop.

Posted by: richard at April 26, 2006 11:39 AM

low interest category is a low interest category

Posted by: jemster at April 28, 2006 04:55 PM

How do you think this might fit in with the low involvement processing model?

Since it hypothesises that we process most marketing messages at a low cognitive level, and that this is a good thing as these elements don't decay as they are stored in the "implicity memory" not the conscious, what does this mean for the industry's implicit assumption that we need to drive salience, meaningful or not?

If you choose to believe Robert Heath in The Hidden Power of Advertising, then suddenly being in a 'low interest category' could be entirely desirable...

Posted by: Faris at April 29, 2006 03:28 AM

It may be low involvement as far as the consumer is concerned but it is certainly not as far as the advertiser is concerned. My feeling is that only the richest clients can afford to operate on the basis of low involvement. Because only the richest clients can build and maintain those constant presence models. Other clients have to make a more decisive intervention into their marketplace to get noticed whether strategically (lets say dirt is good for Persil) or creatively (lets use 118 118 as the example here).

Posted by: Richard at April 29, 2006 11:19 PM

Makes sense chief - I guess if you are P&G you can exist at the perceptual periphery all the time.

Although for 118 118 we actually use a combination of the two: high profile disruptive activity to drive salience and on going, regular activity across the whole year to drive recency as a way to maintain our position at the front of people's minds.

They told us that directory enquiries was a low interest category. But then, as you point out, nothing need be.

Posted by: Faris at April 30, 2006 04:39 AM

Yellow pages was never low interest...

Posted by: jemster at May 11, 2006 04:51 PM