Is ‘As seen on TV’ still a credible slogan?


I studied Marketing at university in the 1990s when the majority of the most common advertising mediums were in stark contrast to those available today. Google was in its infancy, Facebook was years away, even Friends Reunited hadn’t been born (some of you may have to Google this….). 

However, the medium that topped the list as the most effective then, and the one that tops the list today, remains the same – television.

Why is this? Will television’s dominance in marketing continue to be the case, even as we are exposed to an ever-increasing range of digital platforms?

Television is trustworthy

There is an argument that promoting a product or service simply by spending a huge amount of money on the campaign doesn’t make the product or service any good. After all, who says it’s good, other than the organisation that wants to make a lot of money out of it? 

I spend a lot of time reading online reviews before buying an expensive item or booking a holiday. This seems to be a better route to making a decision, rather than simply being swayed by appealing pictures. Then you read a review like this one from Marketing Land published last year that claims 61% of reviews of electrical goods on Amazon are fake, and you have to think again.

This leads us to the flip-side of the argument – people tend to trust television advertising more than any other medium because of the elevated cost of it. If a company can afford to advertise on the television, they must be making a lot of money through selling high-quality goods.

In 2012, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the phrase ‘As Seen On TV’ should only be used when the product has editorial endorsement, not when it has appeared in a paid-for advert. But television advertising seemingly continues to increase in effectiveness, nonetheless.

Synergies with the digital platforms will continue to increase effectiveness

Between 1980 and 1996, as reported by Les Binet and Peter Field, a study showed that adding television to your campaign increased general business effects by 12%. 

Between 2008 and 2016, this figure increased to 40%. This is reflected in the competition to run an advert during the commercial break of the programme with the highest viewing figures broadcast on a Saturday evening.

Despite television having the highest ROI of any media platform, it also has mass reach, and therefore it’s difficult to analyse the true effectiveness of the promotion. The aforementioned increase from 12% to 40% between 1996 and 2008 is largely driven by the use of digital advertising to reinforce the messages we see on our television screens.

As we continue to watch television on a broader range of digital devices, advertising on television will be monitored more effectively. This will allow targeting to become more specific – advertisers will know who has seen the advert, where they saw it, and what the outcome was, therefore leading to an even greater return on investment for advertisers, and the cost of television advertising continuing to rise.

Into the future

The marketing mix is always shifting – twenty years ago, television adverts were more likely to be supported by glossy magazine adverts, or on radio stations. Now, a huge range of social media channels and digital platforms are part of the mix, which reinforces confidence in a product or service because of the way it targets you directly. They rely on each other to operate with maximum efficiency.

Hand in hand with new media, television is still hugely influential, and will continue to be so. Anyway, enough about that. It must nearly be time unveil the John Lewis Christmas advert, right?

Rachel Davey
Studio Manager