Here is a simple introduction to some of the benefits of using mastheads and brand platforms.
We've been developing mastheads for over 20 years. The first was Family Health Diary®, which continues strongly. Eating Well was a spinoff and there have been many other formats we've developed over the years - including The Showroom for Toyota, The Mix for Lion, Money Sense for Westpac and a home renovation guide for James Hardie.
What is a masthead?
A masthead is an advertising platform that accommodates many different advertiser’s brand stories (or sometimes one advertiser with many products and brands).
Mastheads are a form of content marketing. The concise conventions of advertising are married with an editorial style. Like magazines and newspapers, mastheads can bring many stories together under one title that 'flags' the interests of the reader.
When do advertisers use mastheads?
Advertisers who need to make a product announcement quickly and cost-effectively find that mastheads like Family Health Diary® in the wellness category or a more general platform like Discover® allow them to produce campaigns more quickly and at lower cost.
Speed to market
Speed to market is made more efficient by using assets that have already been developed. With theme, look & feel and production model in place there is a considerable saving in time and money. Briefing a conventional ad agency to dissect the issues and develop a bespoke solution is inherently slower and comes with higher risk.
Clear and simple
Masthead campaigns are often motivated by the need for clarity, understanding the audience and product/brand recognition – rather than ‘creative’ stories. The underlying cost efficiency of production systems ensure suitably high production values and value for money for participating brands.
In the past brands would often advertise in publications that added cachet to the brand. Consumers believed that a product featured in The Economist were aligned with the editorial standards of the publication. This created a kind of halo effect for the advertiser and accelerated credibility. Well known mastheads like Family Health Diary add a kind of third-party ‘endorsement’ to the advertised brand. The more continuous presence of the masthead adds credibility and familiarity.
Consumers who have been conditioned by over 20 years of the masthead’s presence on national television (mostly on the more serious channel TVNZ ONE); when people hear the characteristic four note signature at the start of the commercial they know they are about to have health information shared with them.
Transparency & Authenticity
Advertising tradition often relies on a kind of creative ambush or borrowed interest from wider culture (copying movie ideas or comedy routines). In a masthead, the brandstory is more transparent. The interest is inherent in the product and placed in a familiar context. The masthead approach means the amount of energy and resources that would normally be assigned to ‘cut-through’ are reduced and the savings can be invested in media reach.
Research into attitudes towards Family Health Diary has shown that people understood it is a commercial format but have a higher degree of trust towards to the featured advertiser – the ‘third party endorser’ effect.
Multiplying brand potency
A masthead campaign can operate very successfully with a conventional brand campaign – running either together or alternately. This can create a variation of ‘the media multiplier’ effect. Messages that are seen in more than one environment are often believed to be more true or more credible by consumers.
As a volume buyer of media, masthead brands by BrandWorld are also often able to deliver more cost-effective media packages. Many brands could not access this kind of leverage.
Masthead campaigns can be developed more quickly, more cost effectively and, sometimes, deliver more salient messaging to consumers. By eliminating the costs and risks from the creative process marketers can reassign budgets from creative and production overhead costs to reaching more consumers with cost effective media.
Many brands, especially in grocery/FMCG, are finding that the majority of their marketing budget is soaked up by maintaining their presence in key distribution outlets. Leveraging proven mastheads can allow these products and brands to match ‘mental availability’ with ‘physical availability’ – by creating clear, simple and salient messages that are more quickly deployed and are less costly than developing complex bespoke ads in a conventional way.
What to watch out for when developing a masthead campaign.
Look for quality and experience
Masthead campaigns require a different mindset. Some advertisers question whether their budget is ‘building someone else’s brand’. That view is offset by the very high levels of accumulated trust invested by brands. in Family Health Diary has been used by many of the world’s leading healthcare brands. A ‘dividend’ is returned to every subsequent participating advertiser via greater trust and proven, robust systems. They may also receive a greater return on investment than alternative or conventional approaches.
Some brands have tried to independently emulate the production techniques of established BrandWorld mastheads – but they fail because of a superficial perception that the masthead approach is simply a cheaper way to produce an ad. They don’t account for the efficiencies that have been developed over time through investment in the masthead brand and the systems developed over many years and thousands of campaigns.
Look for fit
Mastheads are more efficient for tactical/task promotion than ‘brand building’. Most advertisers who use mastheads understand the distinction. The key to developing a masthead presence is to determine how it dovetails with wider strategic issues.
Look for results
In a fast-moving marketing world, the luxury of strategic flagship messaging may have less importance than in the past. Some advertisers still create annual ‘blockbuster’ brand campaigns, though this model is being replaced by ‘always-on’ thinking to ensure that the brand or product is always in the consumer’s recent memory (all advertising depends on memory – either creating a memorable message or reminding people that a brand is still available. Failing to remind leads to substitution). BrandWorld mastheads allow brands to plan annual campaigns to keep them top of mind – at marginal cost, compared to a conventional campaign. Booking multiple campaigns adds economies of scale to other economic benefits of using an established masthead.
Checklist when choosing a masthead approach: