Flirting with Consumers

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always considered advertising to be strikingly similar to dating. Singles (and brands) are guilty of flirting with, hitting on, making a pass at, others in the hope that they “score” with the object of desire.  Let’s think about it.  A ridiculous amount of time and money are spent researching target audiences (sound a little like Facebook stalking?).  Next, we figure out the best ways to manipulate that audience into buying our product, using our service or agreeing with our movement (basically, a pick up line to land a first date).  Below are some typical “man at bar” stereotypes, their relation to current ad campaigns, and a prediction on how these brand boys may “end their night” by either “getting lucky” with consumers or failing miserably.

The mysterious/intriguing man that women flock to: This is the quiet guy in a bar who is usually by himself or possibly with one or two friends.  He doesn’t say much, but it’s not hard to tell that he’s good looking, educated and interesting.  He might even dress a little “different”, which makes him even more irresistible.

Ad Campaign: By now, you’ve surely heard of the Puma clever little bag campaign.  By using a bag instead of a box to package their shoes, they will reduce cardboard by 65%, save 8,500 tons of paper and reduce carbon dioxide by 10,000 tons per year. They didn’t have to utilize enormous budgets to draw crowds; rather they did it by being smart, quiet and desirable.

Outlook for the Night: This brand boy will leave the bar with just about anyone he desires. By remaining quiet, yet confident, this guy knows how to line up the suitors. In fact, his demeanor may even inspire others to be more like him.

The “I was wrong, baby, come back please”: This is the guy walking through the bar with his head down.  His ego is a little bruised.  Maybe he didn’t care enough or maybe he cared too much, but either way he messed up, lost his girl and wants her back.

Ad Campaign: Dominos has made quite the splash lately.  They’ve emphasized their bad traits (pizza that tastes like cardboard) and explained how they’ve changed (New herbs! Better seasoning!).  Their target hasn’t changed; they just need to prove how much they care and how sorry they are for screwing up. With their “apologize and change” tactic, Dominos has been able to change their image in the eyes of many.

Outlook for the Night: Still an emotional wreck, this brand boy has managed to salvage it’s relationship with pizza lovers.  They maybe even secured that “let’s start over” first date, that is a critical step in regaining love.

Moneybags: Everyone has seen this guy at the bar.  He’s the one who goes in and drops ridiculous amounts of money on anyone and everyone.  He’s loud, obnoxious and doesn’t care that he has to buy his friends.  He also has no particular target; he’ll take whatever he can get.

Ad Campaign: Okay, Geico. Please pick a campaign because the multiple ideas are confusing (Cavemen? Talking geckos? Charlie Daniels fiddlers?).  Sure each idea is slightly funny, but the fact that you can’t make up your mind shows your lack of confidence.

Outlook for the Night: Maybe money can buy happiness a night at a time. (Afterall, everyone needs insurance.) However, this brand boy needs to realize that while getting lucky on one night, doesn’t mean you’ve got a long-term relationship on the horizon.

While each ad campaign mentioned above was successful at one time or another, how might it stereotyped and perceived by consumers and industry critics? As you think about your company, do you want that sentimental relationship with your audience or are you searching for a one-night stand?

-Ryan Pylipow


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Filed under advertising, Branding, Crisis Communication, PR, Public Relations, social media

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