Thursday, February 01, 2007
I don't know a lot about advertising. The only thing I know for sure is that if the logo on your soft drink or dish soap or whatever suddenly steps off the label and becomes a fully realized three-dimensional sentient thing, you fucking do what it fucking tells you. Buy more syrup? Yes, yes, please, just don't hurt my family, Mrs. Butterworth. May the voodoo hand that wakened you show us all mercy as well. You could try to fight back, but how do you kill something that was never actually alive?
I don't need to know a lot about advertising to know I should take my cues from it in all aspects of my life, personal, professional... OK, just personal in my case, but if I did have a job and I needed something vaguely to do with work done, you know I'd totally go with that company with the "Easy Button" ads... Office Depot? Or was that one Staples? I don't know, but now I'm nervous again. They have a magic button that can accomplish any task the presser wishes done. And yet still we have an Iraq war and Larry the Cable Guy roams free, unpunished. You know they're saving that shit for something serious, something personal. I'm not waiting around for that "something personal" to be me personally. I'm running out right now to buy some brads and tacks to appease them.
What I do know about advertising is that it's OK to scare the motherfucking piss out of your target audience. Nothing builds name recognition as being the company that makes people wet themselves. If you're a grown person and not currently Tara Reid, the loss of urinary continence moments tend to stand out. That's some strong brand identity right there.
There are limits, apparently. For instance, it is best to freak people the fuck out about things they have already done to harm themselves. Like smoke or drink or shop or eat or breathe. These are the kinds of things I'm being warned about as of today--it's February sweeps, everybody!--in promos for my local news. It's Something-You're-Doing-Right-Now-Could-Kill-You season again. People seem to tolerate this OK. There's something comfortable about the feeling of retroactive outrage that makes people capable of sitting through a half-hour of god-awful local evening news. They might make an angry phone call or write a sternly worded letter, but in the end, they go back to that now-quite-affordable rat-infested restaurant or the grocery store with the cockroaches in the Cocoa Puffs because, well, it's just so close to my house! Plus, in the end, if you live in California, you just get to blame the Mexicans anyway, so everyone wins. Except the Mexicans.
What you can't do in any circumstance is terrify people in the present tense apparently. Turner Broadcasting's promotional push for their Cartoon Network's Aqua Teen Hunger Force program did just that yesterday in Boston. And now Bostonians are wicked pissed.
On the upside, the visibility of Turner Broadcasting and their product is the through the roof. I, for instance, have now heard of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The downside is the whole blinking-boxes-left-randomly-along-major-transportation-arteries in retrospect might have been a slight miscalculation in a post 9/11 world.
First of all, Boston didn't get hit on 9/11. But New York did. You know what that means? That Bostonians are positive that they must be top of the list to get hit next. Because, from their perspective, why would a terrorist target New York and not have designs on Boston as well, seeing as the two cities are totally equal in every way in terms of prominence and stature? So they're a little on edge, because logically, they know--they know--it has to be coming soon. Also: fuck the Yankees.
Secondly, you can push someone to the point of wetting themselves in the comfort of their own homes in order to advertise a product or program (through which products can be sold). But what you don't do, what is absolutely never, ever, ever done is fucking with people's commute times. Corporate suicide.
No one is immune. We all remember how mighty Coca-Cola almost went out of business after their ill-conceived laser-engraved "Drink Coke!" Li'l Caltrops On The Highways Of America campaign went predictably wrong. Between that and the New Coke fiasco, it's a miracle we're not all stuck drinking Pepsi.
If you want to know how to market something, I suggest looking at the people who put out those Harry Potter books.
1) Have a global phenomenon.
2) Mention it.
Works like a charm. The frenzy has already begun. And nobody is late for work because of it. There's your lesson.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 2.5
PS- One of you naughty monkeys went out and nominated ole Pops for some kind of goddamn award. I am humbled as I do not seek these sort of things out. But now if I don't win, it will be hell to pay for you. For all of you. Mark my fucking words.