I love it when 20 somethings write about how “advertising today” is somehow different than advertising at any other point in history. They write like ads never failed before the turn of the millennium. They seem to think that the practice of niche marketing began shortly after Al Gore invented the internet.
The internet hasn’t changed how people operate. The internet is just another communication tool. When men were drawing on cave walls thousands of years ago… they drew dirty pictures. When the internet became mainstream, guess what kind of pictures were leading the way?
The same is true of advertising. Advertising “truths” written at the turn of the 20th Century are still as relevant today as they were 100 years ago.
The difference is that in advertising today, especially with advertising on the internet, you can SEE what works and what doesn’t. There is little opportunity for delusional thinking. Either those waltzing dancers are driving people to the website or they’re not.
The waltzing dancers is a reference to a television spot which aired a few years ago. Obviously created in response to the “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance” television show’s success, the ads were aired outside of those tightly targeted programs. I wish I could remember who paid to produce and run those ads, but I can’t remember. What stuck with me was the way my teenage son gasped when he first saw it and uttered these immortal words:
“THERE IS NO WAY THAT AD MAKES ME WANT TO BUY THEIR TIRES.”
The campaign quickly died, but I still wonder what the agency AND the tire company were thinking.
Let me put it this way, I can’t FIND the waltzing dancers tire ad on YouTube… but I can find 81 versions of Bridgestones hilarious 2008 Super Bowl ad:
What makes that ad great…. it’s memorable, it’s hilarious AND it clearly illustrates the implied benefit of Bridgestone tires.
What the internet has done is provide a way for that classic to live on and be played over and over again.
Which brings us to what makes the ad above REALLY super stupendously great… I’m airing it here for free. Bridgestone isn’t paying me to air their ad. Yet, it’s getting played here and throughout the internet… long after the campaign ended.
Advertising today is no different that advertising 100 years ago. There are many different ways to make an ad memorable. Being funny is the hardest. Tightly targeting your message to your niche market is the easiest.