This observation started when the police TV series leads started hassling a street person for information.  The ragged looking, filthy vagrant, wearing rags and grime, eventually answered, through his glistening white teeth shining through his dirt covered face..

Ahh, I thought, the actor’s downfall.  Perfect pearlies.  So how can someone play a vagrant when they have great teeth?

Do you want to look your best in everyday life, or do you want to play the role realistically?  It is a tough choice for the actor.  But not for everyone who wants the chiclet smile.

Which leads to the question of the day – how over the top do we have to get before we look totally phony.  And what happens if we do?

In advertising the question is fundamental.  If you reinforce viewers belief that this is a commercial with some small inconsistency or a slip in wording, you undermine the credibility of your message.

Advertisers who miss this sensitivity end up with commercials that look like commercials; but they don’t have the same effect.

Woody Allen said, 80% of success is just showing up.  But when advertisers are putting large amounts of media money behind a creative execution there is a lot of leverage to a stronger message.  You can add a lot more selling power for a fraction of what the media costs if you have the skill and attention to detail.

Lets put it this way, 20% more selling power can add $200,000 more impact to a $1,000.000 media budget.  What is the cost of that additional selling power?  Sometimes nothing more than that attention to detail and having a professional understanding of what nuances make the commercial SELL more effectively.

The formulaic commercials that have an actress pitching while holding the product in front of a store display fall exactly into this mistake.  So do the commercials that talk to the competitors with a “nah nah nah muu muu” about some feature or other.  Strictly FIGJAM material.

Viewers understand that they are seeing some shill parrot an advertiser’s message.  Why believe it?  The message is overtly motivated by a desire to sell.  The arrogance creeps through.  Why should the viewer be convinced at all.  This is not persuasion, this is just a presentation.

Sacrificing the client ego to get persuasive communication results is a very hard compromise to strike for advertising people.  Sometimes sharing a few of the nuances with the client will buy you some space to actually deliver a more effective piece of communication.  And gain from your client some appreciation for the skills required to really communicate.

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