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CLEVER ADVERTISING IDEA FAILS TO BRING IT HOME

bad advertising exampleHere’s an excellent example of one of the most harmful types of advertising.


Why Is That Commercial Harmful?

1. It’s clever.

2. The story is well-written.

3.  It’s very well produced (which includes the casting).

4.  Viewers enjoy watching it. 

5.  No matter how many times they see and enjoy this commercial, few viewers will associate #s 1 – 4 (above) with the product: The Chevrolet Cruze Diesel. 

Good Storytelling. Poor Advertising. 

But if the story is well-written and produced, how can it be poor advertising? 

The “sales message” — what the advertiser ultimately wants the viewer to remember — isn’t part of the story:

“Chevrolet Cruze Clean Diesel, with the best gas mileage of any non-hybrid.” 

That’s the sales message, and it’s delivered only via the announcer voice over (which viewers tune out) and 2 seconds of words on-screen (which viewers ignore). 

The story isn’t about a guy who’s a stranger at gas stations because he drives a Cruze Diesel. It’s about a guy who’s a stranger at gas stations because he drives a car that doesn’t use much gas. 

In fact, with the announcer saying “of any non-hybrid” and viewers not consciously listening, probably 60% of viewers later will think it was a commercial for “some hybrid car.” 

“But What About The Value of Repetition?” 

The story ends before the sales message begins, regardless of how many times a viewers sees this commercial. Repetition offers very little help.

If a tree repeatedly falls in a deserted forest, how many more people will hear it due to the repetition? 

Why This Commercial Is So Harmful

See #s 1 – 4 (above).  

This ad will win an award. 

It’ll probably make USA Today’s meaningless list of “People’s Favorite TV Commercials.” 

The advertising agency will land new business from clients who are impressed by the spot’s warm, feel-good nature…and by the award.

Other agencies and advertisers will emulate the Good Storytelling + Failure to Connect to Sales Message model. 

Ratings for Cheers reruns probably will enjoy a bump.

And more business will continue to squander their advertising dollars. Some of them will have less money to waste than Chevrolet, and their employees or stockholders will feel the hurt.

But it’s an enjoyable 20 seconds of entertainment…followed by a sales message delivered only in a deserted forest.

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  • Pete Ferrand February 26, 2014, 6:53 am

    Nope, totally not the message I got. I missed the whole conclusion because the message makes no sense and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How can a diesel have gas mileage? When you hear something obviously wrong – like a common word mispronounced – you focus on that and lose the train of thought.

  • Jon Brooks February 26, 2014, 9:56 am

    Honestly? My first impression was that Chevy Cruze drivers A. Have no friends and B. Are missing out on something.

  • John Jay February 27, 2014, 2:40 pm

    But…. this commercial works BECAUSE of the familiarity of the “Cheers” show & theme song. And the THEME of the commercial, not necessarily the sales message, comes in at :17 seconds: “Gas Stations. Where nobody will know your name”. That IS a powerful image in our world of $4 a gallon +/- gas & diesel. It IS good storytelling, it IS humorous & warm, exactly the emotion the theme song is meant to evoke from our memories of the show, and finally Dan, I think the writers of the spot are giving consumers the credit for being smart enough make the connection that you’ll rarely visit a convenience store for fuel when you own a Chevy Cruze. I think it’s a clever commercial, and since sales of this vehicle are up, I’d say they hit the target.

  • John Jay February 27, 2014, 2:40 pm

    But…. this commercial works BECAUSE of the familiarity of the “Cheers” show & theme song. And the THEME of the commercial, not necessarily the sales message, comes in at :17 seconds: “Gas Stations. Where nobody will know your name”. That IS a powerful image in our world of $4 a gallon +/- gas & diesel. It IS good storytelling, it IS humorous & warm, exactly the emotion the theme song is meant to evoke from our memories of the show, and finally Dan, I think the writers of the spot are giving consumers the credit for being smart enough make the connection that you’ll rarely visit a convenience store for fuel when you own a Chevy Cruze. I think it’s a clever commercial, and since sales of this vehicle are up, I’d say they hit the target.

  • Todd Gale March 6, 2014, 2:10 pm

    Dan, what to do with all the “clever” ideas? That’s my question. How would this concept be better executed?

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