Wednesday, 24 November 2010

So what does it all mean ?

It doesn’t take you much to work out that the world of advertising is almost a parallel universe. Things appear to be the same, but there are some subtle differences. Take the chocolate manufacturer Lindor. Their current commercial opens with the line “Do you dream in chocolate ?”. At face value, the line feels OK until you actually analyse it. What the bloody hell does “Do you dream in chocolate” actually mean ? And if that isn’t odd enough, have you heard Wilkinson Sword’s “Free your skin” line ? Again on the face of it, nothing appears to be unusual. But in reality, it’s a line that doesn’t make any sense at all.

Quite often, advertising cleverly throws us into worlds that simply don’t exist. But human beings have the nasty habit of suspending their belief and accepting what they see and feel as real. What I am talking about is nothing to do with my recent article in which some advertisers try and pull the wool over our eyes. No, I am talking about the scenarios that are created to show a brand in the best possible light.

Last night I saw a TV commercial for Ferrero Rocher. It tells the story of some gods noshing on some confectionary in Heaven. One of them drops a wrapper, it falls down to earth and we mere mortals discover the special secret. Oh come on. As if gods eat Ferrero Rocher ! This ad is one of the follow ups to the ‘Ambassador’s Party’ commercial where a woman says “Mr Ambassador, you are really spoiling us” and the voiceover proclaims “Ferrero Rocher, a sign of good taste”. Again, when the penny drops you realise what crazy, unreal scenarios they both are, but in fact these commercials are actually sending out incredibly powerful messages. Although Ferrero Rocher is dirt cheap to buy, the brand is positioning itself as a treat...Something special and very rare. And we all know that if something is rare, it is highly sought after.

Here are a couple more examples: Pierce Brosnan and Omega watches. It’s a winning combination. Smart, elegant watches being worn by a handsome ‘action man’ kind of guy. But think about it a little more and you suddenly realise that good time-keeping actually has nothing to do with a bloke who acts. Martini: For many years, we encountered advertising that showed gorgeous and attractive people living the high life in exotic destinations. But again, what has your alcohol consumption got to do with attractive people ? The answer is: It has everything to do with them. Without these powerful associations, the watch is just a chunk of metal and the drink is merely flavoured water infused with alcohol.

These ‘associations’ and many others are the mainstay of advertising today. Yet when it comes to local and regional radio advertising, many advertisers are failing to play this card. There’s just too much local radio advertising around that fails to put the product or service under any kind of spotlight at all. Lack of positioning and zero aspiration will leave the listener feeling completely neutral. People buy products and services because they want them, they will not be sold on something just because it’s half price or whatever. By making that parallel universe appear real, your advertiser’s products and services will take on a whole new meaning.

John Calvert.

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