Written by: Rod Anderson, CEO, Sandbox Brand Marketing
In this article I wanted to share an observation about advertising. Particularly advertising that is not focused on products, features, advantages and benefits.
Recently, during a trip to the United States, I was watching a football game with some friends. During the game we were exposed to a variety of ads mostly focused on products and features. There were also a multitude of beer company ads using humour and bikinis in an effort to make their product the chosen beverage.
My friends seemed amused by the clever ads streaming from the television. Everyone seemed to watch them more for the entertainment value without really absorbing any message or even the name of the company or product being promoted.
Suddenly an ad came on that was not like anything else we had viewed. This ad was very different right from the start. It brought to life a story portraying how most people are scared and react negatively to new ideas because new ideas are scary. In this case the idea was represented by a big, ugly, messy creature who gets pushed away from people throughout its life; until it walks in front of the G.E. building. At G.E. the creature is welcomed in with smiles, friendship, and love. As the creature walks away with a couple of G.E. employees you wonder what will become of this rejected creature.
The final scene features the creature coming onto a stage in front of a crowd of people, and lost is its dirty, neglected look. Instead, the creature now reflects the vibrant colours of what is has become. The creature is blooming and proud as it approaches the microphone, resulting in a standing ovation from the crowd of supporters.
The strategy behind the ad is captured in the tag line “Imagination At Work”, a statement that comes from deep inside the psyche of G.E. the company. The ad is not about products and services, it is bigger than that. It is about a philosophy embraced by a company, its people and its culture. This ad is created to make you “feel” differently about G.E.
The funny thing is, I was sitting with friends that all have extensive experience working in the sales departments of large retail and consumer package goods companies and all of them remarked after the ad saying, “what the hell was that all about?” We discussed the ad for a bit but I was left wondering what most people will think and feel about G.E. after seeing this ad played several more times as well as perhaps more similar style ads byGE. My guess is that at the very least, many people would remember some of these ads and think that G.E. is unique and innovative.
I had two take aways from all of this.
One, is that if you are you in the business of selling new thinking to people or clients, you are probably used to dealing with a lot of rejection. It is human nature to respond to new and different ways of thinking negatively, at first.
Two, it is easy to differentiate within your sector of business by not getting drawn into promoting products, features, services, advantages and benefits, which in many cases are very similar to your competitors’ anyway. If you promote something that drives the inner core of your company you will allow customers to learn something more meaningful about what is behind the products and services you sell.
For those that have not seen the ad check it out here Ideas are Scary - GE