The Original Idea

Quickly answer these 3 questions about current major corporate ad campaigns…
1) Why do Microsoft’s ads currently have “dinosaur people” in them?
2) Why does David Spade torture his pudgy cubicle buddy when he doesn’t say “No” in Capital One spots?
3) Also with Capital One…why are those Vikings running around…or unemployed?

There once was an “original idea” with all these ad campaigns. And those ideas are the answers:
1) You’re supposed to “evolve” to the newest version of MS Office. If you haven’t, you’re still a dinosaur.
2) Capital One doesn’t say “no” when you try to redeem rewards. David Spade and the rest of the cubicle farm work for the credit card competitors.
3) Credit works peacefully until you get the bill or the rate goes up causing credit card robber barons (a.k.a. Vikings) to rob and pillage your money.

The problem is that consumers have to already have seen the “original” ad for the current one to make sense. You’re joining a program already in progress. There are big problems with this.

First, unless you have an obscene ad budget, this will never work. It takes many viewings of any ad before it finally starts to sink in. In addition, you’re assuming that people care about your advertising and are paying attention to your every move. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. If it did, you’d only have the run the ad once.

Even worse, you may be sending the wrong message to consumers who may not “get it”. A prime example is the David Spade Capital One campaign. I bet that if Capital One did some research they would find that a significant percentage of consumers think that David Spade and his pudgy friend work FOR Capital One…and don’t realize the spots lampoon the competition.

The masses are just that…masses. It’s hard to get their attention, hard to get them to change course, and hard to get them to understand. You ALWAYS have to make it clear and not assume they know anything.

One of my primary marketing rules is this…No one cares about your marketing except you. Consumers care about what a product/service can do for them. They really aren’t paying attention to your extremely clever advertising.