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The jeopardy in Double

by Nigel Hollis | September 03, 2009

I have recently been asked to contribute to a point of view on the

paper "Brand Advertising As Creative Publicity" by Andrew
Ehrenberg, Neil Barnard, Rachel Kennedy and Helen Bloom.
(Published in 2002, the paper can be accessed here.) The article
considers the implications of "Double Jeopardy" for advertising. It
reminds me of a debate held in the Journal of Advertising
Research in 1996/7, and it is another salutary reminder that some
debates are never put to rest. For the record, here is my take on
what we can learn from Double Jeopardy.

Double Jeopardy (Wikipedia entry here) is an empirical

generalization of a phenomenon that has been observed across a
multitude of product and service categories: the greater a brand’s
penetration, the higher its repeat purchase rates. This means that
most of any brand's market share is explained by its penetration,
and relatively little is explained by its repeat rate. Double Jeopardy
appears to have most sway in categories where the brands are
readily substitutable and differentiation is low.

The Double Jeopardy relationship also applies to attitudinal data.

For instance, in Millward Brown's tracking and brand equity data,
there is almost always a strong relationship between brand
awareness and claimed trial or purchase intent, with better-known
brands getting more than their fair share of recent usage and
consideration. In order to predict actual market shares (as we do
with our Consumer Value scores in BrandDynamics), stated
purchase intentions must be adjusted to take account of the
Double Jeopardy relationship. People who claim they will buy a
small brand are less likely to fulfill their intentions than those who
say they intend to buy a big brand. When looking at image data, it
is apparent that better-known brands attract higher levels of
endorsement on positive attributes.

All well and good—Double Jeopardy is a fact of life. Big brands

have a significant advantage over small ones. The key question is,
what do you do with that information? According to Ehrenberg,
Barnard, Kennedy, and Bloom, the answer is to publicize your
brand as widely and loudly as possible (irrespective your brand's
size) and not worry too much about what you say. By calling the
brand to mind and refreshing the associated memory structures,
"salience" will be created, and that will ensure that the brand is
considered for purchase. The specific reasons for purchase, the
authors suggest, are so specific to an individual consumer that they
are not worth worrying about. Simply highlight the brand in a
memorable way and people will buy it.

(Note: the definition of "salience" as used in the article combines

awareness and memory traces, plus familiarity, plus assurance.
This sounds very similar to Millward Brown's Bonding metric,
except that we would insist that awareness, familiarity and
assurance are created by memory traces, and therefore memory
traces have a different status than those other attributes.)

The "advertising as publicity" model may seem bizarre to people

brought up on a diet of "advertising as persuasion," but in fact there
is a great deal of truth to this argument. For established brands,
particularly in low-involvement and habitual-purchase categories, it
is true that much of what advertising does is to reinforce existing
brand memories and impressions. Ads that are well-branded and
memorable can remind loyal buyers of what they love about the
brand and encourage them to continue purchasing it. The same
ads will refresh existing brand associations among non-users;
these associations may come into play for non-users when their
preferred brand fails them or is unavailable.

However, the "advertising as publicity" model breaks down when

we consider the case of new brands, or of established brands that
actually have a new and compelling message to convey. There is
good evidence from a variety of sources that when people
encounter information that is new and personally relevant, their
perceptions of brands (and, by implication, their perceptions of
competitive brands) can be changed. Advertising that conveys new
news can have a substantial effect on sales.
So advertising can work—that is, stimulate sales—by reinforcing
existing associations and memories, or by presenting motivating
news. Ads that tend to work the best—that is, evoke the strongest
sales response—are those that achieve the trifecta: They are well-
branded, highly memorable AND they evoke a conscious, positive
response to the impression delivered by the ad.

Now, of course, that combination does not occur that often. As

noted in the paper, "new news" is only newsworthy for a limited
period of time. Thereafter, upon repeat viewing, an ad will remind
people of why their opinion changed, but it won't create further
change. The challenge for marketers, then, is to continue to
present new innovations, or to make old news seem new again. In
the absence of new and compelling news, advertising does
become a battle for salience. Our research finds that over the long
term, brands that have an effective share of voice greater than their
market shares tend to grow.

So to my mind, "Brand Advertising As Creative Publicity" presents

an important but one-sided view of how advertising works to
generate sales. The analysis places too much emphasis on
lessons learned from static analyses of steady-state markets and
not enough on how brands grow by disrupting the existing status
quo. As a result, the impact of delivering new, relevant, and
believable impressions is undervalued. Just because brands rarely
have compelling and relevant news to deliver does not mean
companies should quit trying to find it. Quitting commits the brand
to a long, slow war of attrition rather than a quick step change in
market share.

So what are your thoughts on Double Jeopardy? Why does this

relationship exist and what should marketers do about it?


Campbell, November 23, 2010

I've recently read Byron Sharp's book and it contains a number of interesting
thoughts. However, I'm not really sure why the ideas needed to be accompanied
by so much derision for practising marketers. The effect of this was to make me
think that Byron had only been exposed to the thinking of inexperienced people in
the marketing community. As the book's subtitle is "what marketers don't know" I
have tried to identify any models or ways of thinking that I haven't come across
before and I'm afraid I cannot. Most of the approaches have been used by more
sophisticated marketing people for decades. Of course, the book contains some
interesting substantive evidence and conclusions that are new - always a good
thing. In addition, I wonder if Byron has a few blind spots himself. But you will
have to wait for my book to hear more about these ;)

Erik du Plessis, July 22, 2010

I have just read your book, and it certainly is one of the greats.
I should have said that I just read it 'for the first time'; because it is worth
reading several times more.

Professor Byron Sharp, May 27, 2010

I'd just like to tell readers of this blog that my book is out now. It's sold
out in the USA (more stock on the way) but is available again in the UK.
See Amazon or other retailers.

Campbell, December 22, 2009

Another question for Professor Sharp if I may -
Is there anyone currently working on the cognitive psychology of the
effects you mention?
I'd be very interested in an explanation of the underlying mechanisms.
Apologies if the answer is well-known already - I'm not 100% up-to-date
with the academic literature.
Thanks in anticipation of a response soon.

Nigel, December 16, 2009

Hi Andrew, I suspect you are correct that few marketers set out to buffer
price sensitivity directly, however, I am beginning to suspect that is
precisely what they should be doing. Selling more stuff incurs production
costs, selling the same amount for more money has far more impact on
the bottom line.
Andrew, December 15, 2009
I find the Binet and Fields conclusion curious Nigel. Im not 100% certain,
but i doubt many marketing departments actively set out to buffer their
brand against price sensitivity through advertising, but it is more a by-
product of a successful campaign aimed at moving product and building
strong associations. It is via achieving these goals that you will come
under less pressure from retailers and consumers to reduce your prices.

Nigel, November 13, 2009

This note aims to clarify my comment about advertising affecting price
premiums. What is stated above is incorrect but Binet and Fields state the
following in their JAR paper, Empirical Generalizations about
Advertising Campaign Success:

"Campaigns that aim to reduce price sensitivity are more effective than
campaigns that aim to increase sales or market share. In particular, they
are much more likely to lead to big increases in profits."

Erik du Plessis, October 20, 2009

Somehow all of this passed me by. I just wrote a piece invoking
Peckhams Wheel of Marketing ... I would have liked to have the book
Byron said he would send , but I di d not receive it. Byron, if you read
this, please send me. I also suspect I need to answer your corection of
'Ehrenberg says'. But I will only do so if you respond to this posting (i.e.
you read it).

Campbell, October 02, 2009

Good to see this level of debate on the topic.
Let's separate out observation of what happens at an aggregate level from
what decisions I need to make as a brand-owner to see an effect in the
market. I see it as the difference between epidemiology and personal
medical consultation/diagnosis. I know the statistical relationships
(longitudinal and cross-sectional) between genetic and other family
factors and health are strong; that doesn't mean I can't change MY health
status by changing MY current behaviour. (In fact, the evidence is quite
the opposite.)
And, for brands, a simple thought experiment tells us that each time a
marketer decides to "talk to....non-buyers", that non-buyer encounters the
brand refreshed and anew - possibly for the first time, as described by
Sam. Reach is just about enhancing the probability of this one encounter
across the whole population. Salience is necessary but insufficient to
achieve purchase at that point. The marketer needs to apply
psychological principles not statistical ones to make the sale.
I would also be interested to hear about successful reach campaigns. I'm
looking forward to reading your book, Professor Sharp. Meanwhile, I
know that client confidentiality is key but I'm sure Sam's question above
could be answered with a simple 'yes' or 'no' without revealing data. He
will probably be willing to trust your word on it. I know I shall.

Professor Byron Sharp, September 11, 2009

Sam, you asked if your attitudes might influence your first brand
purchase. Yes, of course they might, as might many other things
especially salience (mental availability) and physical availability. We all
know attitudes can affect behaviour, e.g. I don't like trans fats (I don't
want a heart attack). But most brand attitudes are very weak, and often
not recalled, so the influence of attitudes on behaviour is astonishlngly
weak while the influence of behaviour on attitude is very strong.
Most brand buying decisions are between bingo and bango, gucci or
versace, toyota or honda. It's not really a battle of differentiation. The
real battle of brands is to get into the tiny consideration set, not win the
choice within the set. Your sales depend on how often you get
noticed/considered, not on how often you are favoured within that set.

sam, September 10, 2009

Dear Professor,
Thank you for your answer;
I have another question for you:
I wonder if my perceptions of a brand, my beliefs about it, and its social
desirability might influence my chosing it when I buy into a category for
the first time?
So for example, when I buy my first washing powder, or household
cleaning product, or the first nappies for my baby, is my attitude towards a
certain brand likely to affect my choice for that particular brand?
And isn't this first purchase really important, given that, as we know, I am
lazy as a shopper, and unlikely to invest energy to change my behaviour,
unless the brand I first purchased didn't deliver against my expectations,
or isn't physicallly available?
Thank you for your thoughts

Nigel, September 09, 2009

Thanks Byron, there is nothing naughty about promoting your book. I
promote mine all the time!

I do not doubt that greater physical and mental availability drive the
majority of brand success. However, I do think your prior analysis ignores
one of the biggest drivers of brand success: the ability to charge a price
premium. For the most part Les Binet's analysis is a good one but I note
that advertising was most likely to affect price sensitivity rather than share
growth. All the evidence I have seen suggests that requires a brand to be
perceived as different from the competition in some way. Also, 1 in 4
cases were driven by increases in loyalty alone. Like I said, this does not
gainsay the influence of salience but it does suggest it is not the whole

Professor Byron Sharp, September 09, 2009

A naughty (but short) answer is to say read my forthcoming book.

I can't tell you about what corporate sponsors of the Institute are doing,
that's confidential. But another short answer is to suggest looking at all
the great brands created in the 20th Century and asking what happened
then that allowed national brands to be created - national media and
national chain retailers which delivered a level of reach never seen
Another answer is to look at Les Binet's analysis of IPA Ad Effectiveness
award entries. By a huge margin it was those that set penetration (not
loyalty) as their business objective that earned large growth and profits.

Finally, to answer your question Nigel, the attitudinal advantage that big
brands have is because of their market share, not the cause of it. Bigger
brands aren't always better than the smaller ones; they get higher
attitudinal scores because they are more salient and to more people. None
of this is to say that perceived product quality isn't important, it is, but it
only delivers some growth when it leads to greater physical and mental

Nigel, September 08, 2009

Thanks to Dom, Erik and Byron for weighing in on this one.

Byron, I would love to hear what you have to say to Sam's question.
Meanwhile, I have a question of my own. It seems to me that there are
two basic drivers of Double Jeopardy. Can you comment on what data
you have found to support either one or is it all down to saliency?

First, big brands enjoy systematic structural advantages, e.g. greater

distribution and shelf space, which means that they are available for
purchase when smaller brands are not.

Second, big brands enjoy attitudinal advantages like perceived popularity

and social desirability.

sam, September 08, 2009

Dear professor Byron Sharp
You say that: "Marketeers need reach, that they must talk to light and non-
buyers if they want to grow market share"
And in some of your other work, you've analysed many brands, and
concluded: " The majority of Marketing interventions appear to have no
permanent effect on brand share".
Do you therefore have any data proving that a reach strategy does indeed
grow brand share? or has this reach strategy never been implemented
successfully before by any marketeer?

Professor Byron Sharp, September 07, 2009

Erik, thanks for the publicity, but I must clarify what "the Ehrenberg-Bass
Institute says".

First, DJ is an empirical law, and like Newton's laws it doesn't tell you
how to build a rocket, but you are wrong... it still gives considerable
strategic guidance. If you think about it. It tells marketers they need
reach, that they must talk to light and non-buyers if they want to grow
market share.
Second, yes brands can move up and down the DJ line (i.e. gain and lose
share) though this happens far less often than people believe.
Third, no we don't say this is mostly due to advertising share pulling
market share. Advertising causes sales but so do other things, like
opening stores. We say that market share depends on physical and mental
availability, and advertising plays a part in maintaining and building this.
And, yes it's not just about how much you spend on advertising.
Fourth, we say that advertising mostly, not exclusively, works to maintain
and freshen salience (note the word "mainly" in the articles very first
Finally, unfortunately your neuro-science observation, while likely to be
true, doesn't explain DJ, it explains loyalty/preference. Physical and
mental availability asymmetries explain the law of Double Jeopardy.
PS I will send you a copy of Peckham 1981 "The Wheel of Marketing".

Erik du Plessis, September 03, 2009

Ehrenberg's Double Jeopardy is merely a statistical distribution that has
been found to hold true in all cases that it has been tested for validity. In
other words it has become a marketing generalisable truth.
As Dom and Nigel points out: it applies to any market as long as one
looks at the data at a point in time. If you look at the data (say) several
years later the same distribution holds - but the brands might have
changed their positions in the distribution. DJ does not explain what
happened. Therefor it (in itself) also does not give any strategic guidance
as to what a marketer should do.
It is disliked by many because it seems to say that 'what is' is 'what shall
It appears that the E.B. Institute now argues that change is mostly due to
advertising share 'pulling' market share.
I am happy to accept this generalisation. It fits my experience. It is what
James Packham proved in his 1960's analysis of A.C.Nielsen data
published in 'The Wheel of Marketing'.
(If anyone has copy, please contact me, I lost mine and it is still one of the
best empirical marketing database analyses.)
Peckham said that: Market share shift(i) = A product related constant + an
advertising multiplier times (ad share (i)- market share(i-1)).
This 'advertising multiplier' is easily quantified.
It exists of everything that goes into the message (including creativity and
This is the simple mathematics of advertising that Dom and Nigel talks
about, and which fits into what the EB Inst. is saying, but not saying.
Simply: different strategies yield different levels of effectiveness for the
advertising share pull.
Ultimately most brands can get a market share improvement by
advertising share pull - some can just get more than others! The objective
for marketers is to get the best leverage.
'Advertising as mere publicity' is oversimplifying because it ignores the
different leveraging abilities of advertisements. In fact, I think EBI is
damaging the accepability of their findings by this argument.
From a neuro-marketing perspective the DJ argument makes great sense:
the more often you use a brand (heavier user) the less time you will spend
deciding on which brand to buy. Or, simply, the easier the Decision
Heuristic is for you due to frequency of application. Hence DJ.
So DJ is an empirically generalisable fact. It is easily explained in terms
of neurology. It is sterile unless the dynamics of the advertising share pull
is added (as EBI has done), and unless the advertising leverage is
considered (as Peckham did in 1960's) and is currently done in all
marketing and advertising strategy work by co's like MB.
Dom the Knowledge, September 03, 2009
I think one point that may have been overlooked by Ehrenberg et al is
what Gordon Brown referred to as Enhancement.
Your advertising may not generate an immediate shift in image. So it may
look like all you have achieved is a lift in saliency. But the advertising
may have generated an association or a claim; a claim which is not
necessarily believed at the time, but which can influence the way you
experience the brand at a later date. So it looks like the image shift was
caused solely by the brand experience; but in reality the advertising
association framed that experience, and helped shape your conclusions
about the brand.
Millward Brown has talked about this for years, but it seems not many
have fully taken it on board.

Nigel, September 03, 2009

Hi Miro,

I think this is more a debate about the basic mechanisms by which

advertising works to generate sales. The outcome does then have critical
implications for budget and strategic decisions.

To your point about media channels the authors suggest advertisers should
use those which reach as many potential users as possible. They do
acknowledge the role of "publicity" in general, however, the paper was
written before the rise of social media as we currently know it. I am sure
it would fit with their view that all you need to do is reinforce existing
memory structures but I suspect they would doubt its ability to reach a
large enough proportion of the potential market.

miro, September 03, 2009

Interesting post Nigel
The short answer to your question, use any and all means to achieve as
many points of relevance with your audience.
Is this in fact a debate about the relative merits and proportions of tactical
versus strategic advertising/communication to be deployed by brands with
larger versus smaller mass/momentum?
You made no mention about the appropriateness of various media
channels to the different tasks. Given the emergence of social media
would it not be the backbone of an advertising-as-pursuasive-
publicity strategy, merging the best intentions from both camps? I don't
think we give enough credit to the impact above-the-line media and WoM
conversations have on seeding the disruptive changes marketers desire.