Are Controversial Ads Worth It?

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The battle for attention in the advertising world is intense. Companies are finding it increasingly difficult to differentiate themselves from the competition. What is a company to do when the good ideas are either: taken, over-used, or cliché. How do they breakthrough, without breaking?

The growing trend to enter the consumer’s mind is to use controversy to excite, whether it means using humor or anger to grab attention. Controversial campaigns are high risk, high reward, so caution should be used when employing such tactics.

The recent viral advertisement campaign by Kmart, dubbed the #shipmypants ad, uses word play to promote Kmart’s shipping service. The responses have been between calling this ad, a smart, hilarious campaign, to sophomoric and cheap. Regardless, the numbers don’t lie, people are talking. Whether it’s good or bad, is still up for discussion.

Do you believe that any press is good press?

If you intend to use controversy to jumpstart a campaign here are some questions for you to answer. Since controversy evokes strong emotions:

1.Are you being controversial just to be controversial, or does it have a specific link to your brands purpose?
2.Does the dialog relate to your brand message and positioning, or is just a quick hit to highlight something new?
3. Have you prepared for the backlash and unexpected consequences?

When controversial marketing campaigns work, they usually have a high initial response rate but die off as quickly as they rise. So to sum this all up, are controversial ads worth it? In the short run, maybe, in the long run, no, unless you have a plan to continue the conversation. And if you’re going to go this route, do it sparingly as you cannot reliably gauge the response.

At the end of the day, if you are having trouble breaking through the white noise, what will you do? Play it safe or go for it?

Headline vs Body Copy

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When we see an article, advertisement or even a movie title, our interest is typically based on the headline or body copy. A catchy headline can draw you in to want to experience the body copy, which is the general idea of marketing. This same principle also applies to how we profile the people we work with. Are you a person that just wants the high level facts? Or, are you more analytical and someone who wants all the details? Also a great tool to use for prospecting, and getting to “know” your audience before you engage them. (Psst, agencies, do this when meeting new clients… it will help you determine who you can connect with when in a room.)

It also very much the practice of how we engage with brands that are marketed to us. And as marketers, this is something we must always consider when strategizing around how to connect with our customers. While imperative to a comms strategy, keep in mind that this approach does vary by placement. For instance, at the point-of-sale, it’s all about the headline, a.k.a. an eye-catching design that visually lures you in. But, while a catchy headline may do the trick at retail, most online shoppers want the specifics before they hit ‘buy’. Therefore, body copy can make a world of difference between conversion and abandonment when it comes to digital commerce.

Nevertheless, it’s important to find a balance between the two. To understand the appropriate place to lean at the appropriate time. So, when you’re implementing your marketing communications strategy, think of it as if you were a boxer — determine which blow will have a stronger impact, head or body. It’s all the difference in determining whether you win the bout against your competition, or have to head back to training camp.

P.S.
Me, personally, I’m a headline. I like to get to the point within five seconds or less. So if we ever email, you’ll likely feel that in our exchange. However, this post is more for the body copy lovers out there. Hope you found it insightful and applicable. 

Let There Be Light

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Developing countries have a problem: roughly 20% of the world’s population lacks access to electricity, and kerosene lamps are both dangerous to the environment and hazardous to health.

GravityLight, whose motto is “Doing more with less,” has come up with a clever new way to bring light to poverty-stricken rural areas–without electricity. The lamp operates on gravity, by using the falling motion of a weight to one side to generate light. It began as a project on IndieGogo, and launched in 26 different countries. Now, after crowdfunding almost $400,000 (that’s 727% of its original goal funded), the company is releasing a redesign, which includes a sturdier, less breakable shell, a lighter weight, and a new pulley system.

Best of all, the lamp only costs $20, but will provide free lighting to families all over the world. This proves valuable in places that are generally without electricity, or “off the grid,” or too poor to pay for it. Not to mention that it conserves natural resources, which is always a plus.

What Sparks Our Fire: Creative design that helps move the world forward.

If GPS Could Talk…

 

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Forsman & Bodenfors wants to make sure drivers “drive 25 to keep kids alive,” and they’ve found an ingenious way to do it. Talking GPS are standard features in modern vehicles, but the agency has conceptualized an app that will switch the voice on the GPS to a child’s when within range of a school, daycare, or other area populated by children.

It’s currently available in Sweden, Finland, and Norway, and comes pre-loaded with all schools and daycare centers in the Nordic region.

The agency hopes that this will serve as an audio reminder to drive carefully and watch for children, reducing the number of accidents in school zones and other kid-friendly areas.

What Sparks Our Fire: Using innovation and unconventional problem-solving to draw attention to an often-ignored safety hazard