Actress Barbara Farrell portrayed Colgate spokeswoman Mrs Marsh. TO paraphrase a rather obnoxious television commercial: pester power — does it actually work?
Nanjing Night Net

Some out there in the world of marketing believe that if they can annoy you enough, then eventually you will cave in and buy their product.

Repetition of the same phrases. Monosyllabic jingles. Constant phone calls from international call centres.

All use the same method of rubbing you up the wrong way in the hope that pester power will persuade you to tear down your defences and give in to the message.

For me, it has the opposite effect. Whenever a television commercial, pamphleteer or call-centre telephonist starts to badger me, I actively go out of my way to avoid their product.

Taking a stand against pester power, if you will.

Only recently, I went supermarket shopping and was bailed up by a Greenpeace activist. I gave a polite “no thanks” and headed off but it made me reflect on the strike-rate of similar marketing campaigns.

It must work. Otherwise they wouldn’t bother showing up.

Head to any shopping centre and there’s every chance you’ll see a bloke in a cartoon tie trying to promote a line of credit cards/ life insurance/ herbal laxative.

I was once stopped in a Melbourne shopping centre by a salesman trying to sell air from an “oxygen bar”. For those unacquainted with this latest retail phenomenon, customers are given the opportunity to purchase oxygen and inhale it through tubes from a space-age desk.

If you think I’m pulling your leg, just remember that people have been buying bottled water for years when the stuff comes for free out of the tap. The only hitch is that the art of irritation is so effective. Maybe I’m in a minority but years of evidence suggests that the louder, bolder, brasher and downright annoying the advertisement is, the greater the likelihood of commercial success.

While we’ve seen a litany of bloody annoying 30-second ads during the past few decades, one figure stands out as the harbinger for the present approach to small screen success.

Actress Barbara Farrell (pictured) portrayed Colgate spokeswoman “Mrs Marsh” for more than a decade. At the time, her chalk-in-blue-ink was pilloried by comedians and her catch-cry “It really gets in” grated on viewers.

Surprisingly, a quick glance of internet sites now shows that the ad has found a special place in the collective memory of the Australian public. Maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder.

The same recipe was applied to a recent Coles ad for the supermarket’s beef products. A worse-for-wear Normie Rowe and “celebrity chef” Curtis Stone (is it just me, or does any chef who appears on television suddenly turn into a celebrity?) belted out Rowe’s old cover of Shakin’ All Over in a deliberately off-tempo way.

Maybe the tune wasn’t successful but the public response to it certainly was.

As Rowe told News Limited this month: “I’d be glad to have a payday like that once a week, it’d be delightful.”

“It sold more meat products for Coles than in Coles’ history over that four-week period it was on air.

“It did its job.” It certainly did. The same method has been employed by Harvey Norman for more than a decade.

A yelling voice-over artist shouts about a Westinghouse fridge being “234 months interest free” and a rhythmic beat more akin to a jackhammer than actual music blares through the loudspeaker.

So, dejected and defeated, I have to admit that pester power must work.

As Mrs Marsh would say, when it comes to getting a message into the subconscious of your audience, an irritating catchphrase “really gets in”.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.