WOLFBITES - Issue 27

Improve your advertising by copying the marketing genius of Dick Clark

Photo of Dick Clark, presented by Toronto copywriter Wolfgang Franke to show an example of an advertising technique that should be followed by small business owners, the focus of Toronto ad agency Words at Work.
The marketing genius of Dick Clark is revealed in this picture. Can you see it?

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Being secondary was Dick Clark's primary marketing strategy – and it worked perfectly.

Take a look at the two black and white pictures on this page.  Both show the marketing genius of Dick Clark, who rose to fame as the host of American Bandstand and went on to build a brand that is still going strong today.

You can even argue that virtually every major political figure in Canada and the U.S. and every reality TV show uses the marketing technique Dick Clark invented (see photo below).

Look again at the pictures.  Do you see the common element?  It is simple, but brilliant nonetheless.    

Here is the answer:  Dick Clark was the first to understand the importance and value of putting the audience in the picture.   Not just once or twice in a 30-minute show.  In a Dick Clark production, the audience was the show

You can see this in both of the pictures included with this blog on advertising and marketing strategy.  In the first, we see the audience behind Mr. Clark – the camera shot that is now used by all major political figures, including U.S. President Barack Obama (see below), who used this marketing strategy with devastating effectiveness in his first Presidential campaign. 

In the second shot, we can barely see Dick Clark. He is in the background and the audience is front and center.

Ego-driven TV stars expected – and demanded – that the camera be on them. Not Dick Clark. He put the camera on the audience because he understood that the average person likes to see other average people on TV (the same core marketing strategy behind virtually every reality show on TV today). Nothing shows this better than Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, a show that has all the elements first introduced on American Bandstand:

  • Put the audience behind the star (Ryan Seacrest filling the role previously handled by Mr. Clark)
  • Speak to members of the audience
  • 50/50 split between shots of a big-time music act and members of the audience dancing

It's all about the audience, about the audience,
about the audience...

Here’s how to apply Dick Clark’s marketing genius to your ad campaign:

  •  Audit your existing advertising campaign and take note of every ad that makes the product, not the customer, the star  
  • Take the “camera” off your product or service and put it on the “customer”
  •  Show your customer using your product or service.  (Restaurant advertising example:  don’t show a pretty picture of a menu item, show your guest enjoying a meal)
  •  Give voice to your customers by inviting their comments on Social Media
  •  Ensure that some of your content is generated by your customers, just as Dick Clark generated content by putting the camera on his audience
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Do you see the similarity between this picture and the first photo of Dick Clark? It's the positioning of the people behind the speaker. The old approach was to position the audience in front of the speaker, where they were not seen. Putting the audience behind the speaker (Dick Clark's breakthrough marketing idea) is far more effective because it communicates several important key messages: support of the speaker by men and women of all ages, excitement, popularity, energy, praise, endorsement.

Want to know more?  Contact us online or by phone to request a free introductory consultation, including a comment on your existing advertising and suggestions on how to get more response at less cost (and less risk).

Read Wolfgang's latest marketing blog.

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.

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