you think THAT’S funny?
Times have changed and squeezing rolls of toilet paper does not rise to the same level of hilarity it did in 1965. Consider what some marketers more recently concluded would leave customers laughing and, presumably, in the mood to buy: a Bud Light commercial where a horse loudly breaks wind into the face of a woman who is about to make out with her boyfriend on a sleigh ride; an announcer tells the audience that Outpost.com will fire gerbils from a cannon to help people remember its name; singer Robert Goulet has an apparent nervous breakdown due to a craving for Emerald Nuts; a robot fired by General Motors commits suicide by jumping from a bridge; two garage mechanics eating the same Snickers bar come together in a kiss, then decide to rip out their chest hair to compensate by doing something manly; a caveman takes offense when his IQ is attacked by a Geico insurance spokesman. Funny stuff, right?
Not to everyone. Within hours after most of these spots ran, the protests were launched and TV news anchors bumped stories about war and corruption to discuss whether the good taste of Snickers had been presented in good taste. Union workers were angry at GM for firing the robot.
At least two fairly recent best-selling books have included references to the death of advertising in their titles. While many of us have regarded advertising as bad, misleading, insulting, intrusive, obnoxious and no longer worthy of wrapping a decent sandwich, actually pronouncing it dead seems a little harsh. Death is so final, and raises the question of what to do with my advertisng budget after deducting the cost of a nice funeral wreath.
Too much of marketing today is aimed at appealing to (or working around) special interest groups at the expense of the sales message. Quality, value and a good reputation are compromised as Generation X creative directors and copywriters go for the darker, edgier joke that plays well in the portfolio or on their reels. Hey, marketers! Make ’em smile and leave ’em laughing… but remember what we came to do is tell people in the target audience what we’ve got and why they should buy it. And while we’re on the subject, did you hear the one about the duck who goes into a bar…?