People are annoyed by advertising every day. That’s just how it is. To a certain degree consumers have gotten pretty desensitized to it, so it’s our job as advertisers to rise above all that generic, annoying clutter, and stand out in a meaningful way that presents value to the consumer. But every once in a while something comes along that does its job of breaking through the clutter, but in a bad way.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been punched, slapped and beaten over the head with a commercial, to the point that I scramble for the mute button every time it comes on. I’m sure you’ve seen it. It’s a Zales spot that shows couples in a few different romantic scenarios, accompanied by different lines of copy like “The Falling For You Store” and a song that I really liked at first – “If it wasn’t for you, don’t know what I’d do…” (It reminded me of The Rosebuds).
So it has a good song, some nice cinematography and a pretty good message. The only problem is that the commercial has been following me everywhere I go. Aside from reaching me at home every night, during every single freaking commercial break, the spot has interrupted my YouTube viewing, annoyed me at in-store TV displays and stalked me at a sports bar. It’s ruthless. If I could file a protection order against it I would. And one can’t argue that I’m not in the target audience, because I’m recently engaged; they’re just a little too late. So now I despise the song and resent Zales for torturing me. You know they used this same tactic as an interrogation method at Guantanamo Bay, right?
I definitely think there is such a thing as too much frequency in advertising. We spend so much time focusing on making sure the consumer receives the message, we forget that reaching them too much might have the opposite effect. You know how when you were a kid and your mom told you to do something over and over again, so much that you wanted to deliberately NOT do it just out of spite? That’s what this is like. The first 10 times I saw the commercial I had a positive reaction, and because of that, if I were in the market for jewelry I would have considered buying from them. But they didn’t stop there. They continued beating me senseless until I couldn’t take it any longer.
You can argue that in the end the ad did its job. It broke through the clutter and placed Zales top of mind as a jewelry brand. But does the end justify the means? Is it ok to twist consumers’ arms until they say uncle, or is it better to make them genuinely like you? I would think the latter, but then again, I’m just a fussy, whinny copywriter.