Why advertising needs to make a lasting impression

by Nigel Hollis | June 19, 2017

As you may know by now Kantar Millward Brown has published a new report titled, ‘Make a Lasting Impression'. Implicit in the report title is that idea that making a lasting impression is a good thing, something that advertisers should be aiming to do. But why is making a lasting impression a good thing?


The Creative Effectiveness Lions celebrated at Cannes are not effective because they deliver a well-targeted exposure with rational messaging close to the point of purchase, they are effective because they create compelling feelings and impressions; ones that last in people’s memories and influence their purchasing behavior at a later date. This is the true value of creativity. It engages people’s emotions and creates a lasting impression.

A lasting impression connects positive and motivating feelings, ideas, and expectations to the brand in people’s memories. A lasting impression carries those associations forward in time from the point of exposure to influence subsequent purchase decisions. This is how brands like Premier Inn managed to gain a strategic advantage over their competition, by shaping people’s impression of the brand before they even thought about choosing a hotel

As I noted in this post suggesting that the idea behind marketing in the moment is flawed, the fact that advertising exposure and purchase occasion are separated by time is actually a positive, because it renders people far more susceptible to influence than if advertising exposure and purchase occasion happened at the same time. And once people have formed an impression they tend to look for things to substantiate it. Their impressions are self-reinforcing.

Far from undermining the effectiveness of advertising, the delay between exposure and purchase is what enables it. Provided the motivating ideas, impressions and feelings left by the advertising are salient when people come to buy they will respond intuitively or ‘make up their own minds’, not realizing that advertising helped shape that mindset at some time in the past. For advertising to effectively influence purchase decisions it is not necessary for people to remember the advertising itself. In fact, given the negativity toward and lack of trust in advertising today, it is probably better if they do not.

Relying on the vagaries of people’s memories may sound a very uncertain way to influence a sale, but actually it is likely far more effective than trying to persuade someone from scratch in the midst of shopping. Without expectations and positive impressions seeded by advertising at an earlier date a lot of activation activities, including marketing in the moment, would likely be a lot less effective.

But what do you think? Is advertising still capable of making a lasting impression? Please share your thoughts.


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  1. Ryan Gray, September 26, 2019
    Thanks for sharing! Great article, I particularly agree with what you said about making a lasting impression. I think with how fast and frequently media is pushed to the customers, its imperative to make a lasting visual impact. With hundreds and thousands of ads being pushed, its crucial to make a statement that catches the eye of the public in an instant. Creative design and thinking out of the box is the way at Oak Interactive. Businesses looking to grow and build their brand image should really focus on their branding and design.
  2. Alison Smith, June 23, 2017
    Well if that wasn't the case Nigel, I don't think anyone would feel that indulgent when eating a Flake - they'd just be fed up with all the crumbs but as it is, years of 'only the crumbliest, flakiest .... ' ads featuring pretty girls and waterfalls have left people (well of my age a least) thinking it's an indulgent treat. Sure you are preaching to the converted with your MB readers :)

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