New Marketing Ideas Take Over Addis

Teaser advertising is a new marketing concept slowly emerging in Ethiopia. Wegagen Bank as well as Habesha and United breweries are among the companies that have used teaser campaigns as a part of their marketing strategies in recent times. Teaser ads can generate curiosity and buzz, which may ultimately have a strong impact on the marketability of a certain product or service. However, some experts argue that the approach is costly because the success of a teaser campaign depends on the number of times teaser ads are presented to the consumer. EBR’s Kiya Ali reports.

A few months ago, a 45-second television advertisement produced by United Brewery, which brews Anbessa Beer, became a talking point in Addis. When the ad was first broadcasted, no one knew what it was advertising. It featured a young man, tethered like a puppet to his workplace as he and his colleagues moved boxes ad papers around. However, the ad contained no brand names or slogans, and created curiosity to the audiences. At around the same time, billboards started appearing around town with the face of a lion and a man side by side, but with no information about the company or the product, leading many to wonder exactly what was being advertised.

Yonas Chane, in his mid-20s, was one of the people who were eager to know what the new product was. “When I first saw the picture of the lion and the young man on a billboard, I did not pay much attention. However, after seeing the billboard almost everywhere in Addis Ababa, my interest in finding out what the brand was started to develop,” says Yonas.

This is exactly what United Brewery wanted. Although the ad was later banned from the airwaves by the Federal Consumer Protection Authority, which claimed that the ad contained misleading information, United Brewery says the campaign was successful. “We wanted to grab the public’s attention in a short amount of time. We have succeeded,” a source at the company said.

United Brewery is a joint venture between Kangaroo Industrial Group and United Africa Beverages, a company based in Mauritius, with an investment capital of USD88 million. Despite being a late entrant into the industry, United, with production capacity of 1.6 million hectoliters of beer per year, managed to enter the market more easily thanks to its advertisement strategy.

Known as teaser advertising, the marketing strategy used by United Brewery aims to gain the attention of the public by providing no or little information about a certain product, but still triggering and igniting the interest of audiences in a certain product or service.

United Brewery is not alone in using teaser advertising. Habesha Brewery recently created a teaser campaign as a part of its marketing and brand positioning strategies. In early May 2019, 100 brand ambassadors of Habesha Brewery, dressed in traditional dresses and afro hairstyles were deployed to different parts of Addis Ababa to interact with and entertain Addis residents. Even though people didn’t know who they were or what they represented until the third day of the campaign, they were receptive to them, even taking selfies with them According to Habesha, the campaign aimed to imprint its logo in peoples’ minds.

Wegagen Bank also used the same technique to rebrand its company about two years ago, using television advertisements that featured only a sunrise over a river, and a snippet of Wegagen’s theme music.

Fekiru Woldetinsay, marketing director at Wegagen, says that the teaser ad campaign proved to be an important tool for the Bank as it helped to revive its existing brand and draw more attention from people. “Since teaser campaigns are designed to catch many people’s attention, they must be very creative. Teasers also need to get high media coverage and are aired frequently through different media outlets before revealing the nature of the product or service.”
Although not widely used in Ethiopia, teaser advertising is quite common worldwide. In many developed countries, teaser advertisements are widely used to create online and offline buzz for forthcoming products and services, such as movies and books, new car models and high-tech products.  The 2012 launch of the iPhone 5, for which buzz was created through teaser advertising, demonstrated the effectiveness of the approach

Coca Cola, Sony, Samsung and Pepsi are also known for employing teaser campaigns as an advertisement tool. Studies affirm that the use of teaser campaigns is growing as companies try to first understand consumer interest.

A study by Harvard Business School indicated that in advertising there are two approaches that can be used to capture the attention of the target audience. The first method involves advertising a certain product or services extensively using various media outlets and means. This approach, used by many companies in Ethiopia, takes the message of the advertiser to the consumer.

The second approach, on the other hand, is intended to make the consumer to come to the product or service. Teaser advertising is one of the best ways of executing this, which creates ambiguity, confusion and uncertainty by building curiosity and interest, introducing a surprising piece of information or creating confusion. 

According to Helge Thorbjørnsen, lecturer at the Norwegian School of Economics, the example of the iPhone 5 demonstrated that people will have inflated interest and preference for products when teaser advertising is used as a marketing strategy. This is because of the positive uncertainty associated with the upcoming product or service, which persuades them to spend more effort on imagining and elaborating on the features of the product or service.
Economics and marketing experts describe the power of “positive uncertainty” through consumer behavior. When people do not know exactly what they might win in a lottery, they tend to enjoy the experience more than when they do know, because people are overly optimistic about their own future even if it is uncertain.

However, the success of a teaser campaign depends on the number of times teaser ads are presented to the consumer. Since teasers aim to grab audience attention, different media vehicles need to be used to present the campaign. As a result, some scholars argue that teaser campaigns are costly.
However, Fikru argues that it could be done for the usual cost of marketing. “When Wegagen Bank released its teaser campaign as part of its rebranding effort, the total production cost was similar to previous costs. What matters is creativity,” Fikru explains.

8th Year • Jun.16 - July.15 2019 • No. 75

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