Topic Progress:

‘Screening out’ is what our attention (a function of the brain) does when:

  1. Communications are percieved as less relevant, i.e. banner blindness or advertising in commercials breaks;
  2. When you are unique and standing out in advertising but are familiar already (3+ contacts);

In general we are programmed in a way that we like very much what is familiar but we do not pay attention to it. The other way  around is that we pay attention to what is new mainly because of our primal fears. We need to assess wether the new is a threat or not immediately.

Illustrative is the quote of Rory Sutherland in 2009, comparing advertising with poetry in it’s role of ‘making the new familiar and the familiar new‘.

For obvious reasons we can not continuously introduce new brands, products or services – making the new familiar. The alternative might seem a more sane thing to do. From an advertising point of view a solution is to create new perceptions around a brand, product or service. From a product point of view this may translate into smaller or bigger innovations, percieved as creative and new. From a distribution point of view this may even be availability at unexpected places (i.e. choclate bars at barber shops).

From a media point of view there are at least two options:

  1. Combine multiple media types to reach the market. The same message conveyed by different media types at the same time perform significantly better. Nine contacts in the same medium type will perform less than nine contacts in three different media types. Our attention percieves the latter as new, while building extra memory structures for your brand.
  2. Within one media type, performance increases with different types of communications. Advertising combined with branded content contributes to your brand growth more than one of these two alone.


A brilliant example in advertising making the new familiar is the global introduction of Nespresso. The modeling of George Clooney saved the brand, next to a multi channel media strategy. Less famous but still very effective with a multi media strategy has been the introduction of the Philips Airfryer, enabling frying without oil, using a ‘bottom up’ media approach ending the campaign with a mass media finale.

Making the familiar new is something what luxury brands do all the time, in advertising. Another perfume, bag, dress or watch is always a reason to invest heavily in celebrities conveying the luxurious appearance, advertised in many different media. Combining advertising with branded content in one media type however is not so common in the luxury category.

The 2009 Louis Vuitton campaign with Madonna making the familiar new:


A Dutch example of making the familiar new with media derives from the Dutch Postcode Lottery. It uses (1) a multi media approach in ad campaigns (i.e. tv, radio, ooh, print, dm, online, e-dm) as well as (2) a multi content approach with tv as single medium (ads as well as sponsored programs on on two main reach channels). More info can be found here.