Brand Response TV vs Direct Response TV: The Key Differences

Jun 1, 2023 / Industry Insights / FOTW

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of those memorable TV ads that stick with you? Or pondered the strategy behind those calls to action that prompt you to pick up the phone or visit a website? Well, you’re not alone. In the captivating realm of television advertising, two key players often take centre stage: Brand Response TV (BRTV) and Direct Response TV (DRTV).

These two methods may sound similar, but they have distinct traits that set them apart. Each has its own strengths and is designed to achieve different marketing objectives. This article will demystify these terms, highlight their unique characteristics, and delve into their key differences.

We’ll also take a look at some standout examples of BRTV and DRTV ads that have truly made a mark to give you a better understanding of the differences between the two types of TV advertisements. Whether you’re a business owner considering the next move in your advertising strategy, a marketing professional looking to brush up on industry knowledge, or simply someone interested in the world of TV advertising, we’ve got you covered.

What Does BRTV Mean?

Brand Response TV (BRTV) is a powerful blend of direct response advertising and brand marketing. It goes beyond merely creating brand awareness by also incorporating a compelling call-to-action (CTA) to encourage immediate viewer response. This dual-purpose strategy aims to build a lasting brand image while driving immediate customer action, such as visiting a website, making a phone call, or making a purchase.

Most BRTV ads often run the typical 30”, but bigger brands (with bigger budgets) tend to push their ads a little longer, allowing for more comprehensive storytelling. Regardless of runtime, BRTV ads allow brands to delve deeper into their values, mission, and product offerings, fostering a stronger emotional bond with their audience. It’s about crafting a narrative that not only resonates with viewers but also prompts them to take action.

Importantly, BRTV combines the long-term benefits of brand building with the instant results of direct response advertising. It offers the unique advantage of precise audience targeting and measurable outcomes. By monitoring the responses to the CTAs, marketers can glean valuable insights about their audience and measure the success of their campaigns. In a nutshell, BRTV represents a balanced approach to advertising, driving both brand recognition and customer action.

What Is DRTV?

Direct Response TV (DRTV) is an advertising strategy designed to elicit an immediate response from viewers. Unlike traditional advertising, which primarily aims to build brand awareness over time, DRTV is all about instant action. Its primary goal is to prompt viewers to respond to a specific call-to-action (CTA) immediately after viewing the ad. This could be anything from making a phone call, visiting a website, or making a purchase.

Great DRTV advertisements are typically characterised by their direct, hard-hitting approach. They are designed to present a problem, offer a solution (usually in the form of the advertised product or service), and then urge viewers to take action to avail of this solution. These ads are also commonly associated with infomercials, although they come in various forms and lengths.

One of the key advantages of DRTV is its measurability. Each response to a DRTV ad can be tracked and analysed, providing valuable insights into the effectiveness of the ad and the behaviour of the target audience. This feature allows marketers to fine-tune their campaigns for maximum impact, making DRTV a highly effective tool for driving immediate consumer action.

The Key Differences Between BRTV and DRTV

While Brand Response TV (BRTV) and Direct Response TV (DRTV) share some similarities in their approach to television advertising, they also exhibit key differences that set them apart. These differences mainly revolve around their primary objectives, advertising style, and measurement of success. Understanding these differences can help marketers and business owners make informed decisions about which strategy is best suited to their goals. However, to get maximum effectiveness from your advertising budgets, we recommend both brand and performance marketing (AKA the long and the short). 

Let’s delve into what sets the two apart:

1. Primary objective

BRTV and DRTV differ significantly in their primary objectives. BRTV aims to create a lasting brand image and foster a strong emotional connection with the audience while also prompting an immediate response. 

On the other hand, DRTV is squarely focused on driving immediate action from viewers. It presents a problem, offers a solution, and urges viewers to take action immediately. 

DRTV doesn’t need to be boring, though! And if you work with an experienced TV ad agency like us, we’ll always try to create some kind of narrative or hook to interest the viewers.

2. Advertising style

The style of advertising in BRTV and DRTV also varies. BRTV advertisements are more focussed on storytelling and presentation of brand values, mission, and/or product features. This creates a narrative that resonates with viewers and encourages them to take action. 

However, DRTV advertisements are typically more direct and hard-hitting. They aim to grab the viewer’s attention quickly, present a compelling solution, and prompt immediate action.

3. Measurement of success

BRTV and DRTV also differ in how they measure success. BRTV balances long-term brand building and short-term viewer response. Success in BRTV is often gauged by both the immediate response to the CTA and the sustained brand recognition over time. 

DRTV, conversely, primarily measures success by the immediate response to the CTA. Each response can be tracked and analysed, providing valuable insights into ad effectiveness and audience behaviour.

Great Examples of BRTV Ads

There’s no better way to understand the power and potential of BRTV than by taking a look at some of the most successful and memorable examples. These commercials have not only driven brand awareness and engagement but also helped to shape the advertising landscape with their unique and creative approaches. 

Let’s dive in:

Direct Line — “When Hazards Strike, We’re On It

This dynamic advert puts viewers in the driver’s seat of a retro, pixelated, 32-bit world where road hazards lurk at every twist and turn. Imagine dodging everything from potholes to a runaway grand piano that’s somehow escaped from the back of a truck. It’s a wild ride, but there’s no need to hit the brakes. As you navigate this quirky, video game-like landscape to the rhythm of a catchy 80s bop, a voiceover reassures you that even if an unexpected accident occurs, Direct Line has got your back.

This ad isn’t just about thrill and nostalgia. It drives home the message that even the world’s best driver can’t foresee every hazard on the road. But fear not because Direct Line’s “No Claim Discount” scheme ensures your premiums won’t skyrocket after an accident caused by such unpredictable external forces.

MrQ — “You Win Some You Lose Some”

Prepare for a whirlwind of wins, losses, and everything in between with this MrQ BRTV ad. The star of this ad is a charismatic character with a striking moustache who guides us through a series of scenarios that perfectly illustrate the ups and downs of life. One moment he’s on top of the world, the next, he’s down on his luck, but his spirit remains undeterred.

But this ad isn’t just about a rollercoaster of fortunes. It’s about having fun, no matter the outcome. Our moustachioed guide introduces us to the MrQ app, home to over 900 classic casino games where the thrill of the game is king. Win or lose; every player can revel in the excitement of the game. This ad is a celebration of the inherent unpredictability of life (and gaming), reminding us that with MrQ, the fun is in the journey, not just the destination.

Great DRTV Ad Examples

If you’re eager to grasp the potency and promise of DRTV, the best way is to explore some of the most triumphant and unforgettable examples out there. These ads have done more than just boost brand recognition and interaction — they’ve also shaped the advertising world with their distinct and imaginative approaches. 

So, without further ado, let’s jump right in:

Oddschecker: “Testing Lab”

In making this whimsical TV ad for the online gaming firm, Oddschecker, both CGI technology and special effects played a pivotal role. The mission was to build a captivating DRTV campaign for their fresh-off-the-shelf app to draw attention (and drive downloads, needless to say).

To depict the actor’s face being ‘blown away’ by the numerous features of the new Oddschecker app, they ingeniously utilised a leaf blower. The highly skilled animation crew didn’t just construct the lab through CGI but also utilised this technology to generate effects within the simulated wind tunnel. This inventive approach effectively showcased the wide range of features the Oddschecker app offers.

Plusnet — “Pump Up Your Mobile

Stepping into the future, this quirky 2018 DRTV ad by Plusnet escorts us into the heart of the fantastical ‘Plusnet lab’. The scene is set with three quirky scientists, led by a charismatic figure who, smartphone in hand, boldly declares, “It’s time to pump up your mobile, people!” This is the cue for a spectacular display of innovative technology as the smartphone is plugged into a machine.

As the phone pulses with energy, a high-powered voiceover details the irresistible deal of 3GB of mobile data, 1000 talk time minutes, unlimited text messaging, and the “Roam Like I’m Home” feature for just £8 a month. The advert skillfully guides viewers to either call a hotline or log onto the Plusnet website for more right after seemingly ending on a suspenseful note as the lead scientist appears set to plug himself into the machine.

Of course, the real ending to the ad is that the scientist pumped up his own tongue — adding a cheeky twist to this DRTV commercial to leave a lasting impression.

BRTV or DRTV — Which Is Right For You?

As we’ve seen, both Brand Response TV (BRTV) and Direct Response TV (DRTV) have unique strengths and are designed to achieve different marketing objectives. Choosing the right approach for your business depends on your specific goals and resources.

But remember, these two strategies are not mutually exclusive. Many successful campaigns have found a sweet spot in combining the brand-building aspects of BRTV with the direct, results-driven approach of DRTV. So, consider your business needs, budget, and target audience, and choose the strategy that aligns best with your goals.

No matter which direction you choose, the key is to create compelling, memorable ads that resonate with your audience and effectively communicate the value of your product or service. 

Better yet, work with TV advertising experts like us to craft the most effective commercial for your marketing needs. With over 20 years of experience under our belt, we’re sure to develop a TV ad campaign that works for you.

Ready to get started? Get in touch today!


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