As a guy who works in advertising I often get asked by family, friends, acquaintances and perfect strangers to offer my opinion on current ads in the marketplace. I find this funny because, unlike most people, when I meet doctors, lawyers and auto mechanics, I don’t find a way to wedge questions related to lumps on my back, clauses in my will or an incessant knocking noise coming from under the hood of my car into the course of casual conversation. But whatever. Most advertising people are raving narcissistic know-it-alls who are more than happy to share their opinions on just about anything — especially good ads vs. sucky ads.
OK, that really just describes me. And that brings me to the point of this post.
Good ads can’t be everything to all people. Nor should they be. When digesting marketing material, we make constant use of our eyelids and earlids; we focus like a laser on material that is relevant to us and filter out everything else. Ever notice how when you’re looking for a car all you see or hear are car ads? But when you’re not — white noise.
Therein lies the value — and the importance — of knowing your target market and effectively positioning your value proposition in a smart, concise and memorable way.
So what’s a good example of this? Let’s stick with cars. You may remember the most recent (and final) Mercury car campaign built on the theme line: “You gotta put Mercury on your list.”
You gotta put Mercury on your list? That’s like a high school junior (let’s call him Paul P.) going up to a senior girl and saying, “Hey, when you’re thinking about guys that you’d like to spend some time with over the weekend, I hope you’ll consider giving me a call.” Two words: dead end. I know.
So with apologies to the delightful Jill Wagner — who did all she could to salvage that campaign — a weak value proposition, bad execution and fuzzy definition of the target audience sank this campaign. Sucky ad.
And in case you haven’t noticed, Mercury cars are no longer being manufactured.
Now let’s look at an example of an effective ad populating the auto space:
To be clear, if you’re an urban hipster or a midlife crisis baby boomer looking for a car, this ad wasn’t intended for you. If, however, you’ve recently been to a grade school open house, signed someone up for karate lessons or loaded your DVR with reruns of the Wizards of Waverly Place, you may be a little choked up right now. Good ad.
Have an ad you’re wondering about? Contact TSD (email here) and maybe I’ll check it out and offer an opinion. Who am I kidding? I’ll definitely offer an opinion.
Disclaimer: The opinions in this post are solely those of the author and not of any of his co-workers or other industry colleagues who may cringe while reading this post. Please be sure to formulate your own opinion on all products and product advertising featured here — which is, of course, the entire point of advertising in the first place.