Warning – Graphic Content:
Why Good Marketing Disrupts
We’re exposed to more than 5,000 adverts a day. They’re on our phones, TV, radio, in our newspapers, and on the side of the street. Our brains can’t store them all. You would be lucky to remember just one of them by bedtime. But if you do, our guess is it’s the one that tried it’s hardest to slap you in the face.
Does anyone actually like advertising? For the most part, it just gets in the way of things. You want to bust a groove to your favorite tune on Spotify, not before an ad. Find out whodunnit in your TV show? Here’s a whole bunch of ads first. Or maybe you need to look up on YouTube how to fix the pipe under the sink? Not before an un-skippable bumper— and a very, very wet pair of pants. When you want to get something done, advertising can be pretty annoying.
For creatives in the industry, it’s the elephant in the room. God forbid someone admits advertising sucks because being that blunt could mean our jobs. Here’s the thing, though: despite what you’ve heard, creatives in advertising are people too, and being annoyed by ill- timed or poor-quality content is crucial to their creation of work that doesn’t make its intended audience’s eyes want to roll out of their skulls. We need to be able to spot the stuff that doesn’t work, to create something that does.
It’s not that marketing itself is terrible – it’s that bad marketing is. When messaging is done right, you’re happy to be around it. When it actively improves your day, or reminds you of something you need, then it’s great. We all have adverts we hate seeing, but we have ones that we enjoy seeing, too. That’s why brands are so fond of putting babies, puppies, and kittens in their content. It’s an easy win. Who doesn’t like to see at least one of those things each day? Monsters – that’s who. You pay an agency to make campaigns your customers don’t mind being around. But if they don’t have any infants or tumbling fluffballs to hand, what else makes marketing worthy of your customers’ attention?
Using insights and testing to make sure you’re targeting the right people at the right time is one thing. But none of that even matters if the content you’re testing isn’t unique or exciting to begin with. If you’re a fitness brand, you might glean from market analysis that men and women between the ages of 25-50 are interested in seeing content for weightlifting equipment. Great – but placing a print ad of a jacked bodybuilder clutching a dumbbell in Muscle and Fitness with the tagline “Got muscles?” won’t necessarily grab you any extra sales. But, paradoxically, if you transformed the model into a 350lb dairy cow in an ill-fitting bikini, it might. Why is that?
It’s simple. Even though testing of such a bizarre advert in isolation would fall flat – as far as not showing the audience anything it’s directly interested in: “Gym-goers don’t care about heifers! This isn’t a campaign for bovine beach-wear!” You imagine the client crying. When you place the messaging in-situ, it will likely be the only piece of content that doesn’t drown in the ocean of muscle-bound men and women selling gym gear in the rest of the magazine. It’s the legendary Volkswagen “Lemon” ad in action. There is a paradox in the content. It doesn’t quite add up and, ultimately, it disrupts.
If your ad interrupts a day otherwise stuffed with more monotonous messages, they’ll actually bother to glance at it. If you’ve really done your job right, they’ll look at it long enough to find out what you’re trying to sell. Why else do you think we named the title of this blog “WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT,” to make you look, that’s why.
People are happy to see advertising for your brand, but you have to be willing to try. Not trying is as good as telling your customers their precious time on this planet isn’t important to you. It’s like saying – it’s good enough, it will do. Sorry, but nowadays it won’t. People are wiser to vanilla content more than ever, not just those of us destined to a life in an advertising agency. And with so much entertaining user-generated material doing the rounds on social media and online daily, you can’t get away with putting any old nonsense out there anymore.
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