I heard just this morning that shoulder pads for women are back! I’m also reliably informed that I’m totally “out of it” because flared trousers have been back for a year or so. Everything old is new again! Some things, of course, never go out of fashion but when it comes to our industry, I often wonder what we need to throw away and what we need to keep?

For example; frequency! In the business of advertising, frequency has always been a big deal. In terms of TV we have a formula for measuring reach + frequency. We always believed that by telling the story over and over again we’d ensure memorability and dare I say it, guarantee high awareness.

Now, I’m certain that, at the very least, that concept is an overstatement!

If you’ve ever advertised you’ll probably know that there should be more than a passing interest taken in reach, that’s the extent of the advertising in terms of how many people will see it, and frequency how many times people will see it. However, there is a poor relative of this group known as ‘potency’ and this is seldom if ever measured. I’ve examined this trio of criteria recently and although I have no empirical evidence I’m prepared to stick my neck out and question some old conventions.

Let’s deal with frequency first. I’ve noticed that if you force feed a chicken you cause it to vomit and like the good old chuck we humans are much the same. Frequency is of course important when it’s feeding time, but when we thump the hell out of something it makes the consumer vomit – they switch off, disappear and mark you down. So my advice is, balance your appearance and do it over longer periods, that way the consumer isn’t over saturated.

And what about reach? Well that’s a different story. If you can service the geography and the volume of people, go for it but do it with balanced frequency.

Now let’s discuss potency! What is it? Potency is the quality, strength and value of the content of the advert, no matter what the media. A boring ‘ Harvey Norman advert‘ doesn’t cut the mustard, while a cracking good advert such as Boag’s “Cause this water just makes things better” can keep you occupied for a while.

And this is the secret. When you make an advert, in any medium, concentrate on the potency, because when it’s potent you can get away with multiple viewings to a greater extent than something as boring as the same old discount adverts that assume every person is deaf and can understand ‘voice overs’ that talk at you at 1000 words a minute.

“Don’t bore me, stop yelling, speak clearly and just tell me your story in an entertaining manner and I won’t mind if you say it too many times.”

Potency usually means more detailed attention and more resources, but if you develop a great concept and balance your reach and frequency, you’re on a winner.