Do you remember any of the ads
from this year’s Super Bowl?
When I asked myself that
question, the first ad that popped into my cranium was the one with the
kid who couldn’t find a bathroom to pee in so he ends up peeing in the
Do you remember it too? If yes,
you’ll have my admiration if you can tell me what kind of business the
ad was for. If you can tell me the name of the company who ran the ad
I’ll be eternally impressed.
No clue? You’re like most
people, but it’s not your fault. It’s the fault of the company who
allowed an ad agency to spend $3.5 million(!) to run an ad for a
company no one would remember (not to mention the $100,000+ they
spent on production of the ad).
The Good and the Bad
The good is that they designed a
memorable ad. They shocked BROCA enough that two months later I imagine
many people still remembered the ad. The bad is that viewers had no
idea who the ad was for.
When we market ourselves, we
must do two things:
1. Make ourselves stand out. As I’ve said multiple times: Do it
differently. Do it uniquely. If all the other cows in the field are
black and white, you need to be purple. (Thanks for the visual, Seth.)
2. Make our products (us or our novels or your store) central to the
theme of the ad.
It stuns me how rarely marketers
do this. One more Super Bowl example: I still remember an ad from over
ten years ago, but I can’t tell you the company is unless I look it up:
The Cat Herders.
This ad won numerous awards,
including an Emmy Award nomination. Why? It nailed my first point. But
failed miserably on my second, which makes me wonder why it
was lauded as excellent advertising. (If you remember the ad, can you
tell me who the company is who ran it?)
me whacky, but I’m of the
opinion that to win an award, an ad must cause the viewers to remember
the company it is advertising.
Do It Differently
So don’t do it like the big
boys. Whether you’re working with your publisher, or you’re a bookstore
working with your ad agency/media reps, or you’re working on marketing
materials for yourself, make the merchandise the focus.
I promise it’ll make it a heck
of a lot easier for your customers to make a purchase if they know what
the product is.
(BTW, the companies in the two
ads I mention are, respectively, TaxAct.com and EDS―Electronic Data
Systems, founded by H. Ross Perot.)