There’s just no excuse for fumbling the message.
I’m going to go slightly off-topic today with a little rant about what I think is an absolutely embarrassing ad campaign – one that makes me think the creators have simply forgotten some of the basic principles of marketing, and holds a reminder for me (and I think all of us) that whatever your are doing to be different and innovative – disruptive – you simply can’t forget the basics.
Creating edgy, unusual and attention grabbing TV ads is almost a requirement for many brands. So it came as no surprise to me that when I saw the Comcast ads (there are several series advertising different services) that they played on a slightly warped and unusual sense of humor to attract attention.
But one of these series stood out. The ads are for Comcast digital phone service. One shows a young man who has recently been told by his ex-girlfirend never to call her again. He calls her, trying to convince her that things are different now because he’s calling on his Comcast digital phone service. Of course, she’s not convinced. Another ad shows a man calling tattoo parlor insisting that the tattoo artist can now say “yes” to removing his tattoo because he’s now calling on his Comcast digital phone service. And there are a few others in the series.
Are these funny? Probably (I don’t really find them funny, but I can see how someone in their target demographic might). Are the edgy? Maybe.
But here’s what gets me: The main message of these ads is:
Your horrible, crappy, miserable life will not get any better if you buy our service.
There’s no positive association with the service. There’s no message in that ad about how the service helps or what it does for you. After the vignette, there is a low-price promotion, which makes me think that what Comcast is selling is price, which is fine, but they’ve just told us that we can get to keep our miserable lives by paying less for a service (not really true if you compare phone services).
Is that really the message thy want me to remember? That nothing in my life gets better if I buy from them? Will I really buy a service based solely on the fact that it’s cheap and the ad entertained me for 15-20 seconds? Maybe someone will, but I’m guessing (given the competition in that market) not many. I suppose Comcast thinks enough people will.
My conclusion, the ad is certainly Comcastic! (full disclosure: as a result of a series of horrible experiences with Comcast, what Comcastic! means in my house is rather different from what their marketing department would like it to mean – and here’s some fun reading on Comcast nightmares other than my own).
To my point, stupid marketing tricks like this remind us that as we try to be different, to distinguish ourselves in the marketplace, to use new an innovative techniques to gain attention we simply cannot ignore the basics of marketing. You still have to give your audience a good, positive reason to pay attention, and a good, positive reason to buy from you.