Calexis

Dorian Gray - Everyone's Ideal

We buy media against demographics like age, income and education.  And target our creative at that target.  Consistent and correct – right?

So start with how well people perceive themselves.

Take you for example.  (Pull out a mirror or look at the graphic to the right.)

Do you act your age?  Do you spend according to your income?  Do you behave like others with similar education?

Particularly with age, few do.

Our theory about age is that most people actually believe that they are half their age + about 12 years.  That is, if you are 50, you think, act and behave like you are 37.  Or if you are 24… well you act like you are 24.

We are all like Dorian Gray, the Oscar Wilde character whose portrait aged while he did not.

In our cases, our bodies age – while we fail to recognize or agree with the changes completely.  We lag.  Perhaps in hope or perhaps we are slow learners, but we lag.

The importance of this to advertising is clear.  While we might buy media against reality, we should direct our messages to who people think they are to make them relevant.  Too many messages directed against 50+, for example, show sedentary grandparents in their 80s.  The 50 year olds think and act like they are in their mid 30s.  They are mountain climbing, SCUBA diving, hang gliding, and riding their bikes across France.  They would not connect or empathize with a message showing them looking like they are waiting for the Grim Reaper.

The same is true for tweens who think they are already adults.  The 14 year old thinks they are 19, so talk to them accordingly.  We are all in a rush to get to 24 years old and then slow to want to leave it.

The same is true when showing economic strata.  We are all excellent at self deception so creative messages must embrace it and go with the flow.  Many products have become successful by providing an imaginary lustre to those who buy it.  People buy them to feel like they think they should be, rather than who they are.

Take a brand like Crown Royal Whisky.  It is perceived as a super premium but has had excellent sales among the lower and lower middle classes.  The brand never admits this because its consumers want to think of themselves as being able to afford the best.

Our strength at self deception is something savvy marketers work with and prosper from.  Don’t take reality seriously if you want to get ahead.

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” – Kurt Vonnegut

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