One of the most successful ad campaigns I ever ran was designed to get myself to ride my bike to work. Instead of basing it on standard motivators for exercising like health and fitness, I observed how commercial advertising works hard to associate positive feelings with a product and modeled my campaign after that.
Bicycle commuting was something I had done full-time for several years and thought I wanted to do again, but I was experiencing a lot of inertia around it. So as you might expect, I decided to try showing myself ads with pictures of me riding my bike in order to get my subconscious mind on board.
I order to add an emotional dimension I thought about WHY I wanted to ride to work. Of course, the usual reasons about exercise and health applied, but they had not been enough to get me to do it so far. Instead, I reached back to the memory of the time when I was riding my bike all the time, and tried to identify the things about it that were pleasurable.
The cluster of feelings that came to mind could best be described as a bad-ass attitude that combined being in excellent condition, feeling cool in the gear, and being really comfortable and confident on my bike. It’s a unique feeling that I’ve not experienced in any other situation, and one that I liked a lot.
So instead of making my ad about the health benefits of daily exercise, I went for the attitude. In fact, I amplified it as much as I could for the photo shoot. I dressed in all black gear – helmet, jacket, gloves, sunglasses, rain pants – and photographed myself on my bike looking just as cool and confident as I could. I chose the photo for my ad that best evoked the feeling I was after and added that photo to my Google Sidebar slideshow. I also printed it onto a card for my Hipster PDA.
Bottom line: within two weeks I was riding my bike to work every day, and I continued to do so for several months until the weather deteriorated. Since then, any time I want to start riding my bike to work again all I have to do is put that ad back in my photo rotation for a couple of weeks. So far it has worked every time.
Other articles in the Put yourself in the picture series
- Put yourself in the picture
- Get a gorilla to hold the camera
- Put yourself in the picture to get a job
- A great digital camera
- Put yourself in the picture with Photoshop
- Put yourself in the picture with glue