computer-woman-with-hand-on-mouseAccording to the organizational chart in my last company I was a part of the marketing division.  While my title (at least when I left) was National Consultant Liaison & Trainer, my job duties had me taking responsibility for system design assistance, training development, and consultant relationships.  One of my favorite parts of my time there was working on the development of marketing materials and messages with two people I consider it a privilege and an honor to have worked with side by side.

Most of my involvement would be when new products would be on their way and we wanted to determine how to target the market, or how to shift the customer mindset in thinking about older products.  My goal was always to provide people with enough information to see certain benefits in what we had to offer.  It could be a few specifications that set our products apart from the competition or perhaps focusing on the ease of use/configuration for a certain application.  The goal was always to tell a story, just like any good marketing campaign will.

With the age of interest that we live in, where competing for eyeballs and more than 30 seconds of attention is becoming almost a blood sport, there’s a shift away from that story telling mentality.  We are now in an age where the better your marketing campaign is, the more interaction it draws for your website, social media outlets, and SEO.

Looking at two recent television commercials that I can’t help but love because they are actively attacking the old way of doing things, I have to give immense credit to the teams for HTC and Audi.

Looking at the HTC commercial first, they went out and hired one of the most respected actors in film today in Gary Oldman, and then paid him to literally say “blah” repeatedly for 30 seconds (in the long version) before he finished by urging you to form your own opinion and then “go ahead, ask the internet.”  There isn’t a thing mentioned about the product other than the manufacturer, the name, and the stated impression that it’s for those that can think for themselves.

It’s absolutely brilliant in terms of its ability to generate potential interaction with all the online media, but at the same time frustrates me off because it’s not giving me an option to do anything other than look it up online.  What happened to providing your customers a certain amount of basic information? 

The Audi campaign takes a very similar method to reach the potential customer base.  They selected Ricky Gervais, a man that has a tendency to be controversial as it is, and then have his “niece” read negative social media comments about him out loud for them to enjoy.  The message, again, conveyed that as someone who stirs up controversy and doesn’t stick with “the norm” Ricky is doing “the right thing.”  This new style of appealing to the consumer’s need to be an individual and not just one of the herd, making them believe that by selecting this option versus the competitor they are making a unique decision.  But still, other than a few lines of text, there is absolutely no comment about any features about the car.

Both of these commercials are exceptionally entertaining and have the unique characteristic of being something that draws people’s attention and keeps it until the next day when it can be discussed at the office.  I know I’ve had people at my office or socially ask if I’ve seen both commercials.  They get the conversation moving, but is the conversation about the products or is the conversation about the commercials themselves?  Have we reached the point of being such a cynical society that having a 30 second spot to tell people to go look something up online because that’s what you’re going to do anyway is the new normal? 

Both of these campaigns are fantastic at drawing attention and urging people to interact with the brand in questions, but that raises the next question:  does immediately asking your audience to put forth an effort help move units and sales or do these types of campaigns just provide entertainment/water cooler fodder and keep the brand in conversation?

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