Please, Make It Stop!

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.

– Andrew

OTA Sessions 2012 – Takeaways

In addition to an Augie tote bag, a few books and some OTA garb, there were many takeaways from the excellent speakers at this year’s 3rd annual OTA Sessions, which were held Friday, March 23. In a short, rapid-fire format, here are some of the main things we ADwërkers learned from the sessions.

Jim

  • The web is being rebuilt around people!
  • Consumers don’t experience “average” service; the curve has big peaks on both ends – very happy, and pissed.
  • Work in low-fidelity first.
  • Curiosity and luck are closely related.
  • When I grow up I want to be able to tell stories like Jay O’Callahan.

Sara

  • The most important things to people are their interests, their friends and their friends’ interests. We are not influenced by society; we are influenced by the people we are emotionally closest to. As advertisers, we can’t shout at consumers, we have to develop relationships with them over time with lightweight interactions like their friends did at the beginning of their friendships.
  • There is a lot of similar content in your inner circle of friends, but there is a vast amount of new content all around the circumference of your circle of friends. The circumference is where new content can get exposed and enter into a person’s circle. That’s where our clients can start their lightweight interactions that build into a brand that will eventually matter inside a person’s inner circle of friends.
  • Start with something you know. Then, take it to a new place. Satisfaction comes from being taken to an unfamiliar place.

Andrew

  • We need to stop attempting to apply the TV and print mediums to the web; the internet is an entirely different medium. It would be like reading a radio script in front of a camera, then broadcasting it on television.
  • If you want to move people, there is perhaps nothing more powerful than the original medium of face-to-face storytelling. That was made evident by the master storyteller Jay O’Callahan, who I think moved every single person in the audience that day with his story titled “Forged in the Stars.”
  • Ideas are like buying stock – the lower the risk, the lower the pay off, the higher the risk, the higher the payoff. Be willing to take risks with your ideas.

Mike

  • Today in marketing and advertising, the words “story” or “storytelling” have become so watered down. When Jay O’Callahan told us his story, he wasn’t trying to increase brand awareness, or he wasn’t trying to sell us something, he showed us how powerful authentic storytelling can be.
  • My hunch has always been that big creative ideas rarely come from people who have a narrow focus; they come from those that are open to learning; and it was nice to have that validated by some of the speakers.
  • My favorite form of communication is still the first form of communication – verbal.

Kara

  • It was encouraging to see so many attendees came from outside the Sioux Falls area. I saw people from Pierre and Rapid City and while I didn’t recognize anyone from the other OTA’s (ND and MN), I wouldn’t be surprised to know they were represented. The caliber of speakers was impressive and I was really amped when I walked out the door. We’re extremely fortunate to have this event held right here in “fly-over country.”

Thanks to Hugh Weber, Mike Billeter and Andrew Brynjulson for all of your efforts in putting together this event. We can’t wait for next year!

– ADwërks