How does your marketing stack up to Super Bowl ads?

Consider the following two examples of persuasive communication:

Exhibit 1: Super Bowl ad


Exhibit 2: To-do list

Resolutions for 2008
– Write a blog article every week
– Exercise regularly
– Clean out the garage

Superbowl ad vs. To-do list evaluation

Message importance

First let’s evaluate the messages above in terms of importance. Let’s say the items on the list in Exhibit 2 are my New Year’s resolutions.

  • Writing these articles for you is very important to me. It’s interesting, creative, and I feel it makes a small contribution to the overall mental ecology.
  • Exercising regularly is also very important to me. It affects my body, my brain and my overall sense of well-being. It makes me feel better, look better, and literally extends the span of my life.
  • And hey, let’s just say I really REALLY need to clean out the garage!

Drinking SoBe Life Water, on the other hand, is not very important to me at all. I’ve never tried it, and (unlike the SoBe company) don’t care if I ever do.

Media presentation

Now let’s evaluate the messages above in terms of production values:

  • Exhibit 1 contains many multimedia elements, including color, sound, and motion. It uses catchy music, a sexy celebrity model, and humorous dancing lizards.
  • Exhibit 2 consists of several words printed in plain black text.

Not really a fair contest, is it? Although goals in Exhibit 2 are much more important to me, the presentation of the message in the Super Bowl ad is dramatically more compelling. There’s a good chance I’ll remember it, probably associate the product with the humorous positioning, and maybe even tell a friend about the ad. Any chance I’ll do those things with a line item in my to-do list? I don’t think so!

Step up your game

TBYB encourages you to level the playing field, as it were, by stepping up the production values of your own advertising. Though you’ll likely never decide to sink a million bucks into producing an ad to influence yourself, it’s certainly possible to add a little color, a photograph, or a slogan. Rather than just writing your goal on a list, consider introducing interesting imagery to reinforce the concept. Maybe you can even figure out a way to add humor or music.

Perhaps the most important thing to emulate from the big league ads is strategy; just like in football, it works better to have one. I’ve written about some ways you can use marketing strategies in the psychology of persuasion series and the hierarchy of needs series.

Obviously most of us are never going to produce slick 30 second video spots advocating for our goals (though that would be very cool), but my experiments have shown that adding any kind of imagery to a reminder about your goal is an order of magnitude more effective than just writing it on a list!

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