Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Commercial Perceptions

I've worked in and around Marketing for long enough to know that it's not the advertising you do that makes the difference. What makes the difference is how people perceive the advertising you do. 

You know how it is. You see a commercial and the jingle sticks in your head, but when someone asks you what the commercial was for, you have no idea. Or, worse yet, you watch a commercial for, say, an Audi, and when it's over you're thinking "Wow. I really want to travel to Italy, too." Some marketing exec just spent thousands and thousands of dollars on a car ad, and you've boiled it down to a travelogue. Oops.

As we come up to the Holidays, we get lots and lots of ads, and many of them don't always have a solid focus. They're trying so hard to catch customers, that they throw the net as wide as possible and hope for the best.

Of course, there are a few constants in Holiday commercials. You know you'll see lots of twinkling lights. You know you'll hear all sorts of Christmas carols. And you know that you'll be seeing more red and green than you can stand. 

Well, this season, I have found one commercial which combines many of the "constants", but--at least for me--falls way off the mark. 

I wish I could find a link online to the ad, but it's for a nationwide chain, so maybe you've seen it. The ad is a Wal-mart ad currently running on TV. 

** sidenote ** I'm not going to go into any opinions about Wal-mart, here. I wouldn't even mention their name if it couldn't possibly help you understand what commercial I'm talking about. ** end sidenote **

In the commercial, a squad of people walk toward the check-out lanes and proceed to switch their "open" lights off and on and we, the audience, watch them flash while listening to "Ring Christmas Bells." It's well choreographed and interesting enough, but the first time I watched it, all I could think of was "So which lane is open?"

Every time I've seen it since then, I get a little anxious, thinking "With my luck, I'd be in the store while they were doing that, and I'd NEVER find a lane that was open long enough to check me out!" By the time the commercial is over and the checkers are all smiling and proud of themselves, I'm frustrated and feeling like I want to run the other way.

Somehow, I don't think that's the perception they wanted me to get from that commercial.

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