MARKETING BLOG Issue 06
Want to save $24,771 on unlimited laser hair removal?
Is the promise of massive savings proof that group buying works – or a sign that the group buying concept is in trouble?
Even if you are not in the advertising and marketing business, you can make judgments on the effectiveness of Group Buying websites by looking at what companies are using that media option. For example, do you see recognized brands making credible offers or virtually ridiculous offers for virtually unknown products and services. Judge for yourself where these offers fit:
- 99% off 1 year of unlimited laser hair removal – a $24,771 saving!
- 91% off one month of martial arts training – a $187 saving!
Now imagine that your offering is right next to one of the above offers. Is that really where you want to be?
Bottom line: If you advertise on a Group Buying website, you are associated with the companies that advertise on Group Buying websites and that may not be a good thing, unless you have a lot of hair in the wrong places and need to get rid of it while saving $24,771.
Can an ad campaign be based on a lie?
Don't be sad about your gambling losses. Be happy! That's the message the Responsible Gambling Council is delivering online and in radio commercials. Do you believe it?
So I am listening to the radio and I hear a well-produced, 30-second commercial produced by the good folks at the Responsible Gambling Council. The ad caught my ear because it presents a most unusual premise: the solution to problem gambling is to see a gambling win and a gambling loss in exactly the same way.
Does anyone really think that problem gamblers will hear this and conclude that, yes, the solution is to be happy about a gambling loss? Have you not seen gamblers after they have suffered a gambling loss? They are not happy and that means the entire premise of the radio commercial (you can be happy about a gambling loss) is based on a lie. It doesn't even pass the giggle test.
To illustrate the problem with this campaign, let's look at how the commercial would sound if we tried to present the same premise with beer. In this scenario, good tasting beer replaces a gambling win and lousy tasting beer stands in for a gambling loss. Here's how it might sound:
Announcer: What do you think about this really good tasting beer?
Man: It's great.
Announcer: And what do you think about this really lousy tasting beer?
Man. It's great.
Announcer: Don't be angry about your lousy tasting beer. Be happy. This message is brought to you by the Foundation for Equally Enjoyable Beer Drinking.
Ridiculous? Yes, but that is exactly the premise of the problem gambling radio spot. It wants you to believe something that is not true. Don't make the same mistake in your marketing and advertising. The consumer will sniff out the lie every time.
Thumbs Up – Johnson & Johnson Hospice Care TV commercial Thumb Down – Capella University Nursing Home TV commercial
How do you put a happy, uplifting conclusion on a television commercial about end of life care (hospice care)? It's possible and here's the proof.
Great copy writing is all about great story telling – and there is no better example than the Hospice Care TV commercial by Johnson and Johnson. This 30-second powerhouse tells an incredible story while fulfilling the mandate to increase awareness of the importance of hospice care nursing. Have a look. Note in particular the closing visual (open window) and the closing line (not tonight Berta, not tonight). It is a stroke of genius.
Now compare the 5-star Johnson & Johnson spot with this head-scratcher by Capella University. There is no voice over in the opening, just images showing a person making his/her way to work. About 15 seconds into the commercial, ominous music begins, we see an elderly woman sitting in a wheel chair, presumably in a Nursing Home, and an off-screen voice says: And then it hits you. The right university can give you the knowledge to help make sure she gets the care she needs instead of just hoping she will.
What? Did I miss something? Why would anyone conclude, just by looking at the woman in the wheel chair, that she is not getting the care she needs? Ok, the woman is not happy, but does that mean I am going to decide that I need to go to the right university to get the knowledge I need to make her happy? No.
You are watching a commercial that seems to make no sense. And then it hit you, this commercial doesn't make sense.
Even more important, is there anything in this commercial that makes me think I should go to Capella University to get the knowledge to help make sure she gets the care she needs instead of just hoping she will. No.
And who wrote the script? Even thinking about the introductory line (The right university can give you the knowledge to help make sure she gets the care she needs instead of just hoping she will.) would be firing offence in any credible agency, yet somehow this tortured syntax made it through the agency and client approval process.
No way of telling what went wrong. But this has all the signs of an "art director" commercial, which means an art director had the final say on all creative elements, the entire focus was on the visuals and the script was an after thought. I have to wonder what the Capella commercial would have been had it been done by the same folks who did the Johnson & Johnson commercial. My guess is that it would have been far better and, more important, would have attracted more interest.
Al-Qaeda generated a lot of headlines, but lost control of its message.
Will the War on Terror include a brigade of marketers?
A terrorist concerned about his brand image sounds like a plot line for the next Mike Myers movie, but life is always stranger than fiction, and that's confirmed once again by reports that the late Osama bin Laden was concerned about the misconceptions surrounding his brand, Al Qaeda.
Some of the issues raised by Osama ring true – the organization's full name (Al Qaeda al-Jihad) was too long and hence had been shortened to something that had less appeal, and the positioning needed to be changed to present more of a religious message. Given what we know now, he should have spent more time worrying about his own positioning.
How short is the memory of the American consumer? Very short
See how Nike handled the reintroduction of the Michael Vick brand.
When we first learned four years ago about Michael Vick's involvement in dog fighting, there were huge protests and Vick was abandoned by his major endorsers. Fast forward to 2011 and what do we see: Vick is a star once again and he has a major endorsement deal from Nike. This proves, if we needed any more proof, that the American consumer has a short memory and there is a simple, though lengthy, way to rehabilitate just about anyone's reputation.
Get them out of the spot light, either voluntarily or involuntarily, for a year or two and all will be forgotten. That's how it worked for Marv Albert (voluntary absence) and that is how it is working for Vick (involuntary absence).
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I always welcome feedback – pro or con – on my ramblings about marketing and advertising here in the GTA, across Canada and around the world. Feel free to tell me I'm completely nuts and am a know-nothing hack (you will not be the first). Or offer some gentle praise (once again, you will not be the first). Or suggest a topic for a future issue of WolfBites. If it makes the cut and is published, you will win a $50 gift certificate. Honest. Use our Let's Talk form to make your submission.
Disclaimer: All of the above is presented in the interest of helping companies and organizations make better decisions about how they spend their advertising and marketing dollars. It is not presented to criticize or second guess other advertising agencies or marketing companies. Having been in the business for over a quarter century, I know there are many reasons why a campaign can miss the mark and often it has absolutely nothing to do with the advertising company or marketing agency.
|Wolfgang Franke is President & Creative Director of Words at Work Advertising & Marketing, a full service communications company established in 1988. Our growing list of valued clients are found throughout our local market, Markham and the Greater Toronto area, across Canada in cities such as London, Ontario, and Edmonton, Alberta, and an expanding list of international locations ranging from The Big Apple in New York to Kanturk, Ireland.|