Do you ever analyze an ad, and think through why an advertiser presents their message in the way they do?
I think about this a lot.
Partly, I do this because it’s my job. Partly because it’s the way I was raised – to be analytical about marketing. (Thanks, Dad!) Partly, because I find marketing techniques to be a fascinating microcosm of how to successfully motivate people.
Ads are…well…fascinating to me. Did you ever stop to think that a national brand’s 30-second TV ad costs roughly the same amount to produce as a 30 minute sitcom? Second for second, ads have better scripts, better actors, better directors, and way better special effects. So the obvious question here is…”why?”
As they said in All the President’s Men, follow the money. Advertisers get paid a lot to tell you what to think about something. To spin it. To position it. Call it what you like, it’s an ad’s job to get you to think about a product or service in a particular way.
Let’s pick on something obvious for a second. If you’re a hormonally-saturated teenage male, what’s on your mind about 99.9% of the time? Women. What kind of pitch would appeal to you? One that tells you (in not so subtle a fashion) , “Buy this product, and you’ll have to beat women off with a stick.” The ads for Tag body spray leave my wife cold. I find them amusing, but uncompelling. (I’m in my 40’s. I know better.) Our 19-year-old son, however, is smack dab in their demographic crosshairs. It didn’t take but a day or so after that campaign hit before he bought the product. Why? It resonated with him. Didn’t matter if the product didn’t work. He bought the dream.
In effect, all marketers are dream merchants. Some dreams can come true. Others are completely bogus. Some are deceptive. I’m here to tell you that it pays to scratch beneath the surface and analyze exactly what an ad is saying – and WHY it’s saying it, before you succumb to it’s message.