In Advertising

OF COURSE it was going to happen after publishing something like my last post. Heavy sigh. Joan writes;

Your points on this are well taken BUT consider if you lost your mother, father, son, daughter, wife or husband to suicide via a bridge jumping. Would you feel entertained by such an advertisement? Since 32,000 Americans complete suicide each year and each of these suicides guinely effects a minimum of 6-8 people, that is a huge group of people to offend…not to mention all of the mental health practitioners, physicians and researchers who are working to save lives.

PLEASE don’t think of me as an insensitive brute! I think you missed my point. I’m not endorsing what GM did … I would probably not have done the bridge-jumping thing. BUT, I would have definitely gone far enough to upset some OTHER group!

Consider the Nationwide Insurance commercial with Kevin Federline that heated up the Restaurant Industry to the point where they too asked to have the ad pulled. Before getting all wound up, I’m NOT comparing “rapping in a restaurant” to “suicide”. However, you can’t discount the fact that this group of restauranteurs were truly upset by the commercial! Did the Nationwide marketing team purposely try to tick off people who work in restaurants OR did they simply play on the idea that everyone has dreams … some dream BIG … let’s call it “the human condition”. If you can imagine a kid working as a fry cook dreaming of being a rap star you can then actually picture in your mind the commercial happening in real life. The play on the idea comes when an actual rap star (and I use that term VERY loosely) is caught in the act. FUNNY STUFF!

More on the Human Condition:
This was a topic of quite a bit of discussion/debate in our office today. The effectiveness of all three of these ads is based on; observation of the human condition and of stereotypes. The human condition of the GM ad is; how do people in an automobile plant feel when they worry about the quality of their work? Do they fear for their jobs? If they lose their job, how will it affect them? THAT’S the “human condition.”

So, if the GM ad doesn’t work, WHERE did they go wrong? I would say they tapped into the wrong emotion – too much fear and sadness! There are VERY few people who will walk away from watching that ad with the feeling that it was “funny” … or they could “relate with it” … or that “GM really cares” … or “GM must understand quality because I too have those fears”. Why? Because the visual of a robot waking from a suicide dream is STILL on the topic of suicide, it’s almost impossible to get the viewer focused back on any other emotion. Yes, emotions are powerful and HUGELY important in the development of great brand/advertising.

Back to the KFed fiasco…. what’s the human condition? It’s the reality that people have dreams beyond where their jobs are located. If the marketing team for Nationwide would have instead picked garbage truck drivers, or dental hygienists, or dishwasher repairmen, or hotel bellhops, or, or, or …. I’m sure we would have somebody else up in arms instead of restauranteurs. That’s not really the point though is it? The point is that KFed put himself out there in a self-deprecating display that was intended to be funny.

Final Words:
Again, my last post was NOT to defend or endorse the GM ad. It was to point out that emotions are powerful things and when you use them in your brand development (AND YOU SHOULD), you run the risk of polarizing the world. To this I say “GREAT!!” If I can polarize the world with my own brand and only get 1/10th of 1 percent of all the people on the planet to be true, die-hard, dyed in the wool, evangelists for my company …€” and the other 99.9% think I’m looney …€” I’ll be MORE than happy to provide services only to those 6 Million people on my side. This is a MUCH better strategy than to be completely bland and safe with nobody on your side.

Keep those cards and letters comin’!

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