Monday, March 10, 2008

Advertising Campaign 2008: Welcome to Pennsylvania!

Here we are in Pennsylvania, awaiting a circus of advertising for an election that will not make the difference in this wild ride primary, no matter how the media hypes it. Of course it will make some difference, but right now the thought of being the center of the media advertising vortex is a major turn-off - Pennsylvania will be blessed with six weeks of relentless political ad attention.
I'd been wanting to put up a cool list of advertising techniques I found at Slate awhile back, so this seems like a good time to review strategies. Discernment is not limited to Pennsylvanians; belt-tightening is going to be part of life for anyone who looks at their balance sheet in this scary economic environment. When we watched TV with our kids when they were little, one game we'd play during the commercials is "How are they tricking you?" This made my kids feel very smart, though it did not diminish their interest in buying junk cereal. Advertising is still effective on the unconscious level, even if we dismiss it on the thinking level. Awhile back I wrote about this in more detail. So one's best strategy for remaining unaffected is simply not exposing yourself to ads at all. As they say - good luck with that one! Here is Seth Stevenson's summary. You can watch a video or slide show at Slate.

1. The demo (a visual demonstration of the product's capabilities).

2. Show the need or problem (and then the remedy or solution: the product being sold).

3. Symbol, analogy or exaggerated graphic (to demonstrate a problem or solution).

4. Comparison (the product is claimed as superior to competitors).

5. Exemplary story (weaves a narrative that helps illustrate the product's benefits).

6. Benefit causes story (a trail of events caused by product's benefit).

7. Tell it (credible testimonial by presenter or real person).

8. Ongoing characters and celebrities (to help cement a brand's identity).

9. Symbol, analogy or exaggerated graphic (to demonstrate a benefit of the product).

10. Associated user imagery (showcases the type of people associated with the product).

11. Unique personality property (highlights product's uniqueness).

12. Parody or borrowed format (parodies movies, TV shows, even other ads).

Applied to political ads of late, the 3AM red telephone commercial was a #2 - with the subtext of scaring people. If you want to see a great satire of that one, check out SNL from 3/9.

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