Do you remember S.P.O.T, the dog from the old Telecom commercials? Can you hum the Ches ‘N’ Dale song – or even sing it? Do you know what comes after, “Ahhhh Novus.” What about “You know I can’t grab your ghost-chips”?
If you answered 'yes' to any of those, you have experienced the power of fluent devices. They are the type of ads that can be recognised and remembered by a whole nation for years, even decades. They can also become a part of the glue that holds together our unique and familiar collective national identity.
But why? What’s so special about Wattie’s tomato sauce compared to other tomato sauces? Why do pineapple lumps and an image of the Four Square man suddenly act as a form of comfort when living overseas? Even the word “bugger” has the power to pull up some nostalgia, a laugh and an image of a ute.
To answer the why, we need to look at neuroscience and the concept of “the fluent device”. The goal of a fluent device (a tune, a slogan, catch phrase or character) is to become a tenant in your subconscious mind. Familiarity is the golden-goose that increases awareness and profitability for a brand – sometimes it’s called mental availability. When people are more familiar with a product, they are more likely to have a positive reaction to that product.
Behavioural science also shows that we humans aren’t as rational as we might like to think we are. We tend to make choices based on our instinct, intuition and past experiences. The science behind fluent devices is to connect with those “decision-making drivers” in order to create a favourable emotion or “gut-feeling” towards the advertised product.
Family Health Diary has successfully acted as a proxy fluent device for kiwi brands for more than two decades. The familiar intro tune and well known presenters and formats mean that the products showcased quickly earn trust and recognition by association - a halo effect. This helps influence viewers preference for products and their purchase decisions.
Fluent devices such as jingles and catch phrases may be perceived to be old-fashioned because they have been used for decades, but they persist because they work.
According to the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising in the UK), brands that use fluent devices are more liked, create more awareness and are more profitable. Seems silly not to use them, right?
At BrandWorld we take pride in delivering results and return on marketing investment. If research and data shows that fluent devices generate increased awareness, higher market share and profit gains – then, well, the proof is in the pudding.