Excerpt from the new Amazon almost best-seller
Media Collusion: Journalism and Marketing Experts Share the Secrets of Sneaky Advertising, Targeted Persuasion, AI and Tracking, Political Deception and Coercion, and Dishonest News
Many of the things we buy are purchased months and sometimes years after we’ve seen an ad. This is particularly effective with things like insurance, which requires brand knowledge and trust, and beer, which hit kids in ads at an early age but catches up to them later when they’re of drinking age (or close) and are making lifestyle choices about what kinds of alcohol to associate themselves with. The same goes for automobiles. As a youth, you identify with lifestyles and promises that are associated with cars, then that information influences you at a much later time, when you’re able to drive and can afford to buy a car on your own. These ads often feature celebrities. Audi uses Ricky Gervais, Lincoln hired Matthew McConaughey,
Ricky Gervais – Audi: http://bit.ly/2qZKY0G
Jean Claude Van Damme – Volvo: http://bit.ly/2r0QeRG
If you look at all these ads, you’ll catch on to a theme. Focus groups and deep data analysis must have turned up this particular approach to car buyers. It’s especially prominent with the Audi and Volvo ads. By the time you’re grown up and are looking for a car, you’ve had your fair share of hard knocks. You’re hardened and battle tested. The Audi ad does it cleverly with Queen lyrics from We are the Champions. They’re very aspirational, but they both offer this idea that you have to pass some tests to get to these cars. Your experience, moxie, scars, mistakes and travails lead you to these payoffs. Both of those ads use high-profile celebrities that may have made impressions on viewers during their younger years.
Kate Upton – Mercedes: http://bit.ly/2qZLpbk
This Mercedes ad ups the ante a bit. It includes performer Usher, actor Willem Dafoe, and model Kate Upton. The promise of sex, fame and race car driver status are the clever motivators. All that, however, doesn’t have to be part of the deal. It could be perceived as negative, in fact. But the imagery does the job. The ad plays to those aspirations while also touching on reason. The guy who’s offered a deal with the devil (Dafoe) can get all that good stuff or something close for just $30K by the end of the advertisement. Celebrities work well in these ads, because:
1. They’re already good actors so the director has an easy time of it 2. They come pre-loaded with perceptions (Dafoe works great as someone evil, and Upton oozes sex) 3. Their personal value as someone successful (Usher) associates that value with the brand and the car buyer’s aspirations 4. They’re appealing to the eye – most actors just have to be this way, even if they have a tinge of ugly to them
Most people are entertained by this kind of advertising, but many are somewhat naïve when it comes to their power. Ask any of your friends if they think they’re persuaded to make purchasing decisions based on TV ads, and you’ll probably get a snarky response. To a man, people think they’re immune to ads. On the surface, it makes sense. We see tons of advertising, and we don’t consciously connect our purchase decisions back to the ads that have soaked into our brains over the decades. It’s interesting, however, what we learn and remember from ads. You could ask those same friends what their perception of a particular beer, car or insurance company is, and they’ll usually give you a response that’s right in line with the intended perceptions that the company’s ads convey. Ask them about Jameson whiskey and if they’d drink it. Ask them to associate a word with Mercedes, Subaru, Toyota, Jeep or Range Rover. Ask them to tell you what they think about Jack in The Box, Outback Steak or Wing Stop. Here are my responses to the whiskey, cars and restaurants:
Jameson – man’s drink, quality, classy, Irish roots, Irish pride ● Mercedes – wealth, real estate professionals, quality, German obsession ● Subaru – hippy conscientious, outdoors, humble, adventurous, democrat ● Toyota – practical, value, trusted, durable, long life/mileage (This last bit is a holdover from Toyota ads that featured odometer readings in the 1970’s and 1980’s the people in the ads showed you their 250,000 and 300,000+ mile odometers and then jumped into the air – “oh what a feeling, Toyota!” How’s that for recall!) ● Jeep – adventure, outdoors, mud on fenders, off-road, military, utility ● Range Rover – wealth, exclusivity, elite, solid, all-wheel drive on mountains and off-roading ● Jack in the Box – munchies, late night eats, hangover food, grease, vice, dark side ● Outback Steak – Australia, modest budget eats, consistent across the country, bloomin’ onion, beer and full bar service ● Wing Stop – Sports, NFL, day with the boys, TVs, gambling, grease, vice, bar food treat
Advertising works – even on me. You can extend this friend asking experiment even further. Ask them if they think other people are influenced by ads, and they’ll probably say yes. Think about it. Would Mercedes spend $5 million on a Super Bowl ad if they didn’t know that it drives sales?