Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advertising as a Singles Bar

   Clemens' article is long and complicated. So, his summary of the main points at the end is useful.

  • People don’t trust ads There is a vast literature to support this. Is it all wrong?
  • People don’t want ads.  Again, there is a vast literature to support this.  Think about your own behavior, you own channel surfing and fast forwarding and the timing of when you leave the TV to get a snack. Is it during the content or the commercials?
  •  People don’t need ads.  There is a vast amount of trusted content on the net.  Again, there is literature on this.  But think about how you form your opinion of a product, from online ads or online reviews?
  •  There is no shortage of places to put ads.  Competition among them will be brutal.  Prices will be driven lower and lower, for everyone but Google.

OK.  Is this true?


If you ask people about advertising, they will think about it and give you the obvious logical answers.


Clemens is also being reductive and simplistic.

Let me pitch some analogies based on singles bars.   With the Consumer like a girl out for a night.

People don’t trust ads.   Obviously, ads are almost always “spun” – each has a “line” – like a guy in a singles bar.  OK, sometimes the guy is a “catch” – and sometimes he is a pickup artist with an STD.  In the beginning (if you are a girl) you just don’t know.    Why do guys use “lines” and go to singles bars.  Because they work!   Sometimes.   “Trust” is rarely determined logically – it’s an emotional thing.  So that “vast literature” about people not trusting ads is really about the “morning after” experience “commonsense” warns about.  We know we shouldn’t trust ads – but we do to some degree because  ads are designed to influence our hearts, not our heads.

People don’t want ads. Again, this is about logic, not feelings.  A girl goes to a bar. Ask her if she wants to be hit on by horny guys.  Fuck you, she replies, you think I’m slut?  But, in reality, if she goes to a bar and is totally ignored by the guys, she feels left out.   People see ads as a necessary evil.  And they also want to know what’s going on – the trends.    If you don’t know “what’s in”, then you can’t keep up with current consumer fashions – and – guess what – you feel “left out”.  There’s another thing -- good pickup lines are not “Hi, I want to fuck you” – they are funny and smart.  Good advertising works the same way – it’s entertaining. 

People don’t need ads  Again, the singles bar analogy works.  No, the girl didn’t have to go a bar at all. She could have stayed home and read a book. But then she wouldn’t meet anyone, would she?  If she goes to a crowded bar, she may be hit on by 10 or 20 guys – which she will no doubt complain about. But of these 10 or 20 guys, she may intuitively sense that one has something more. If she is interested, she can investigate.  Maybe some of her friends know the guy – she can ask them. She can check his facebook page. She can chat up the bar tender.  There are all sorts of ways.  And, if she is lucky, he turns out to be a “find’ and she buys into him.   But that wouldn’t happen without him making the initial move.  Smart girls are emotionally intelligent. Smart consumers, too.  Ads are a medium – and they are not really designed to offer real content.  Imagine if shops had no signs.  Where would you go for an aspirin when you had the need? 

 There is no shortage of places to put ads.   Quite right.  Competition means that companies need more and more places to bruit their names and products.  In subways and the outside of the cars. Ditto buses. Taxis.  Blimps…. And the Internet.  And the Internet has one huge advantage if you want to target a certain group.   You always know where to go -- the best places, of course, being where people go for actual content!  A lot of TV advertising is wasted because it simply doesn't reach its target audience or is inappropriate to it. Here, in Japan, Animal Planet is interrupted by ads for Turtle Soup, which, as an animal lover and environmentalist, I find insensitive, if not downright stupid.

More ….later….!

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