I think the reason that I couldn’t really get into Mad Men (ducks as internet throws refuse at him) is that I’m really tired of advertising. I get it that the show is about much more but every time one of those handsome, well suited men drinks a glass of scotch and talks about ads, my eyes roll back into my head. But obviously, advertising has gotten better right? I mean, ad companies couldn’t take hundreds of years of data about purchasing and human psychology and just ignore it, could they? Yeah. It turns out they could. Enter, the Olympics.
Can We Annoy You For 30 Seconds
I’ll be honest. I really like really good ads. There are a couple that just stick with you. They’re witty, or touching (damn you Scotiabank theatre snowman) and they get the job done. But for every ad that actually does what it’s supposed to do, there are a hundred, maybe even a thousand ads that make me want to throw my remote at the TV.
Seth Godin, in one of his TED Talks, says;
“These companies pay millions and millions of dollars to interrupt and irritate me.”
While watching the Olympics, I was just astounded at the number of genuinely bad ads. There was a gum commercial that was so bad that because I can’t remember the name of the gum company it was an ad for, I’ve decided to stop chewing gum entirely so that there’s no chance that I chew that brand. That commercial was bad enough that if you asked me, “is this an ad for bad gum or a propagandist campaign by parents and dentists to make people stop chewing sugary gums entirely?” my response would be the latter. If you’re going to make an ad, I’d rather it be unmemorable over annoying.
Hey, Remember Us
With the advent of internet ads, companies have tried to figure out how to get people to pay attention to them in an era of increasingly limited attention spans. My son already knows where to click to skip an ad in YouTube. We’re training people young to hate commercials. But there’s a new strategy. Just put that ad on repeat.
During the course of two weeks of the Olympics, watching roughly three hours a day of Olympic coverage, I would say that there were several ads (specifically RBC ads) that I saw at least five times an hour. Twelve days, three hours per day, five times per hour. That means that I saw that ad about 180 times. I mean, after 179 times, I was still unconvinced…but that 180th time did it. I opened up an account that VERY day. Advertising success, right? Wrong. It’s one thing to repeat an ad a few times but when you beat consumers over the head they (usually) figure out that they don’t appreciate it.
Ok. So how DO we trick people into buying things?
Ummm…Could You Not
Why, in 2016, are we still trying to trick people into buying things? Recurring revenue. That’s the goal. You don’t want people to buy your product once, you want them to buy your product over and over again and for that you don’t need to drill your product into people’s heads. For that, you need a great product. I’m not suggesting that advertising is not important. Far from it. Rather, I’m suggesting that a shitty product with a fancy package is still a shitty product.
Speak To Me
The ads that are truly transformational say something incredibly powerful to their audience. I just watched an ad that was three and a half minutes long about a device that changes the way that you sit on a toilet, thus altering your entire bathroom experience. It involved a unicorn and an ill-fated comparison between feces and ice cream. Luckily for them, they’re not selling ice cream.
If your ad makes me legitimately laugh or legitimately feel in general, I MIGHT give your product a go but don’t just yell out into the ether. Speak to the people that you want to buy your product. Take the time to understand your audience and deliver something they want so that you can achieve what you want. Otherwise, you’re wasting your money and their time.
Advertising is far from dead. In fact, I believe it’s about to undergo a revolution as the way we consume media continues to evolve. Advertising must change with those consumption channels. If your method is to yell, “extra, extra” and then expect us all to tune in while you drone on, there’s a good chance I’m not buying what you’re selling.