Saturday, 2 June 2007

Taking the piss..

I'm not sure how well the phrase "taking the piss" translates in countries other than Australia, but basically it means to make a joke at someones expense. What I want to talk about today is companies that are prepared to "take the piss" out of themselves.

Carlton United Breweries (the makers of such highbrow beers as Carlton Draught and Victoria Bitter) had an ad campaign recently that was a parody of the famous scene from the movie Flashdance. Rather than having a beautiful girl dancing to the song "its raining men" they went with an overweight goofy looking middle aged male dancing around in a leotard... it was pretty funny as far as ads go (you can watch it on metacafe here).

Now I'm sure that there would have been more than a couple of Marketing Exec's who would have passed on such a concept based on the idea that people would equate Carlton Draught with being overweight/ugly/etc, but here's the thing, the ad was a smashing success! Why?

Because Carlton Draught didn't make an ad that tried to trick their consumers into thinking they would be smarter or better looking if they drank their product. Instead they made fun of themselves, gave the consumer a bit of a laugh in return for their 30sec of attention and both parties walked away happy. Carlton Draught got their impression and the consumer got entertained.

As an advertiser, I think there is a valuable lesson in this and other campaigns of this nature. You can show attractive people standing on a beach enjoying your product till the cows come home but chances are your just going to blend in with 98% of the other ads trying to do the same thing. So why not be bold, try something that's makes fun of your company in a light hearted way and maybe you wont end up with people changing channels as soon as the ad break starts.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Gone in 60 Seconds….

Waitress 1: Sorry we can’t make changes to the breakfast menu.
Customer 1: I just want the BLT served on rye bread instead of a baguette?
Waitress 1: Sorry, but we don’t make changes.
Customer 2: Can I get a Skim latte please?
Waitress 1: We don’t do skim?
Customer 2: what about Soy?
Waitress 1: Yep
Customer 2: So you do Soy milk, but not skim! Why?
Waitress 1: We just don’t…
10 minutes later…
Waitress 2: Hi, um…it seems we have run out of baguettes, would you mind the blt served on bread, or would you like to change your order?

The above was an exchange that a friend and I had with a waitress on Sunday, as we had breakfast at a café close to where she lives.

The Café is not expensive. Nor is it exclusive. It is just your typical, hip Melbourne-Fitzroy corner café. There is nothing on the menu saying why menu items cannot be altered. And each time my friend asks to have an item altered (always the BLT on Rye...such a creature of habit!) she gets inconsistent answers from the wait staff...

Make me feel special. Make me think my happiness is important to you. Get me to feel like I am part of your customer community? And I will care about you and be one of your business advocates. If they really wanted to stick to this policy what should have been said or stipulated on the menu…

Due to our small kitchen, and the busy customer traffic we experience, to ensure that all our customers get their meals quickly (and while they are still hot!), our kitchen staff unfortunately can not make changes to the menu items. We hope you enjoy your meals – and don’t forget to ask our staff about our daily specials!

Know your business value points in the minds of your customers.

A great contrast to this, comes from a company that truly understands what value it really provides to consumers - McDonalds
Bangkok McDonalds promises your order in 60 seconds or you get a coupon for a free drink. There's an electronic timer that the customer pushes to start the countdown. Reports from when the program was first introduced, indicate the staff seemed to have fun trying to get the order done in time. The customer is being reinforced of the message that - this is fast food, McDonalds strives for consistency and customer service, and how “customers” felt was in the forefront of McDonald’s business model! I can’t think of anything else that would be more important for McDonald customers to know!

Monday, 28 May 2007

So banner ads are good?

So there was an article in Ars Technica the other day saying that people who were exposed to banner ads for a particular product had a slightly more positive attitude towards it (the product, not banner ads).

I wont go into detail about how the study was performed (if you want to get a better idea, read the article) but what I will say is that I am always a little sceptical of these types of studies. Why? Because after reading (well listening to the audio book of) Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink" I have come to realise that what people SAY and what people actually THINK are often 2 very different things. Having done one or two market research surveys in my time, I know that when asked specific questions about "how you feel" about a brand the true answer is quite often "I don't FEEL anything about it" yet feeling obliged to answer the question I choose a random number somewhere between 1 (meaning poor) and 10 (meaning excellent).

In my opinion the proof is in the pudding and the statistics that can be gathered from said pudding. Statistical research of how your advertising campaign is extremely important but it tends to be something that only gives you true data after the fact. Asking people how they "feel" about a brand might not result in accurate data, looking at how many people bought your brand after a certain campaign will usually tell you everything you need to know