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Gtech vs. Vax: Who cleans up in the cordless vac TV ad battle?

Your latest Adquirer analyses the TV campaigns of household heavyweights, Gtech and Vax, to see which advertiser utilises their budgets the most effectively, whilst delivering key features in an impactful manner. We explore their creative and media strategies and look at how can you apply these learnings to your own TV advertising activity.

Timeframe: October 2018 – September 2019

Gtech creative analysis: Rolling out their frontman in feature-led spot
Perhaps best known for its Air Ram upright vacuum cleaner, Gtech now boasts a wide variety of products in its line; from the prominent vacuum range to lawnmowers, e-bikes and even an automated massage table! For the purpose of this analysis, we will be focusing on their handheld cordless Gtech Pro vacuum cleaner, comparing it like-for-like with Vax’s Blade 2 Max, with both brands only utilising 60 second spots.

Gtech’s feature-heavy ads are very consistent in look, feel and tone, with one massive exception (which we’ll get to later). The spot for the Pro vacuum does however follow the party line of rattling off the product’s attributes, with inventor-founder-come-presenter Nick Grey front and centre of the ad. This immediately produces a direct comparison to Dyson’s approach of having James Dyson – who is a knight of the realm and has been a household name since the 90s – take us through his latest inventions. Grey’s attempt to replicate this ‘frontman’ approach does add a certain honesty and authenticity to proceedings, but there is a noticeable contrast in charisma which leaves the door open for competitors to deploy more effective message delivery elements in their creatives.

The features of the product are methodically visualised, in what is a clear demonstration of the Pro vacuum: from the different uses, attachments and the reappearance (or so it feels) of the old vacuum bag, the merits of which are of course justified in the ad.

Looking at the response-based attributes of the Gtech Pro spot, the brand’s logo is on-screen throughout, but the call-to-action only includes a small URL and phone number in the top and bottom right corner of the screen respectively, both of which appear with only about 2-3 seconds remaining and are incredibly easy to miss. If they were more pronounced in the ad, would it have driven more visits to their website, thus lowering their cost per website visit (CPV)?

gtechvs.vax

Gtech’s massive creative exception
I mentioned a shift in Gtech’s creative direction. It arrived from out of nowhere in May last year in the form of a spot that starts with the standard image of someone vacuuming with an outdated, heavy, corded product. But instead of then demonstrating a Gtech product that is the antithesis of those features, the ad dives straight into a backflipping, rapping, musical dance performance, delivered by a huge ensemble cast wielding cordless vacs. It was only on air for 3 weeks and was a big departure from their usual offering, which might be why it hasn’t been used again since.

Vax creative analysis: Can they make a vacuum look cool?
The ad for the Vax Blade 2 Max cordless vacuum takes a different visual approach to Gtech’s offering. Although there are similarities in how features are central to the message, Vax’s spot is a slick, room-by-room demonstration of the product at work. It shows a lady vacuuming her house… slowly, whilst accentuating the vac’s headlights – a fantastic feature seemingly ubiquitous on such vacuums these days. The visuals and ambience are sleek, atmospheric and futuristic with clever use of lighting and darkness. The voiceover is professional and compelling with the tonality one expects.vax all response media

The end frame however is chaotic at best, with a LOT of information delivered in the space of 3 seconds:

  • The brand and product names
  • A ‘Which? Best Buy’ logo
  • A phone number
  • A small URL
  • A large image of the vac
  • The price (+ free delivery)
  • Pictures of all the attachments with the words ‘Free Toolkit worth over £50’
  • And finally two more lines of ‘Payment Options Available’ and ‘Mainland UK’.

And breathe. Processing all of that information in a manner that persuades a response is ambitious at best, and impossible at worst. There simply isn’t enough time to digest all that information.

In another performance-based test, both ads could do better in stating the features on-screen whilst they are being described by voiceovers. TV ads are audio and visual experiences, and where possible need to be as effective with either the sound off, or whilst the viewer is looking away.

Media Strategies: Who spends their budgets wisely?
The start of 2019 actually saw these advertisers trade agencies with each other. So, would the brands simply follow in the media footsteps of their rival? There is a hint of this, with Gtech’s use of ITV reducing with Channel 4’s stations coming to the fore (accounting for 55% of their impacts), with Vax being more ITV-heavy with 41% impacts delivered on ITV1 alone. But this obvious ‘agency switch’ narrative is not conclusive enough to say the deployed strategy wasn’t a result of meticulous planning.

tv spends of grey tech and vax all response media

Both brands operate during daytime and pre-peak dayparts (translated: from midday to 5.24pm, with weekends mostly recorded as pre-peak). This is understandable, but could there be an opportunity to break out of this norm and differentiate the plan from such a direct competitor? Well, evidence of some differentiation can be seen in their use of stations, with Gtech delivering 39% of their impacts on terrestrial stations, to Vax’s 66%. But, with both still featuring heavily on the likes of Tipping Point, Sunday Brunch and A Place In The Sun, perhaps there would be scope to differentiate further. For example, utilising more of Sky’s stations to occupy some airtime real estate where fewer competitors are operating.

The ratio of terrestrial channel usage reflects the TV expenditure of each brand, with Vax outspending Gtech by 324% with these particular brands. Gtech utilises a wider usage of stations and is thus less reliant on more costly and often less responsive terrestrial stations. So, have Gtech spent wisely and achieved a more effective and efficient campaign?

How did these ads succeed in driving traffic to their websites?
We estimate that over the entire timeframe of this analysis, Gtech achieved a CPV of £16.89 for the Pro vacuum, and over the same period Vax managed a CPV of £71.46, over 4 times more than their direct rival. It could well be that Vax’s terrestrial-heavy approach, coupled with a confusing and cluttered call to action, have led to these results in comparison with Gtech’s cleaner and calmer approach. The reason could also lie in the humble authenticity of Nick Grey, adding a face to the brand and taking viewers a level deeper into the product, beyond actors and professional voiceover artists.

weekly web visits oct18-sep19 gtech vs. vax

In March of 2019, as the above chart (covering the analysis timeframe) shows, Gtech’s website visits overtook Vax’s with gusto according to data from Hitwise. But TV spend across all brands does not mirror that development.

An updated version of this chart (above) shows a huge spike for Gtech before Christmas, with Vax not quite reeling them in as indicated in the trend of the above chart. This is a close tussle, with Gtech seemingly edging it as things stand.

The Adquirer provides insight into the creative and media strategies behind the campaigns of industry-leading advertisers, with estimated costs per web visit results provided by our data scientists utilising sources including Hitwise, Nielsen and BARB.