Four words for ad professionals: ‘Oh, yeah? Prove it’

By John Foust

foust_john
John Foust

I once encountered a car dealer who took advertising puffery to new levels. They publicized themselves as being number one in every conceivable category. Their general advertising theme was, “We’re number one.” Their new car slogan was, “We’re number one in new cars.” Their used car slogan was, “We’re number one in used cars.” Their service department’s slogan was, “We’re number one in service.” And of course, their logo featured their name inside a number one.

That approach must have simplified their advertising strategy meetings: “Let’s just tell everybody we’re number one in everything.”

I’m no legal expert, but I suspect that they could not have been prevented from using that exaggeration, because saying “we’re number one” is like saying “we’re the best.” It’s just too common to be taken as a serious deception.
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Advertising is all about motivation

By John Foust

foust_johnWhen you peel back the layers of advertising philosophy and technique, it all comes down to one thing: Motivation. People buy things because they are motivated. And the most effective ads are those that appeal to the right motivation.

There are two basic motivators: (1) desire for gain and (2) fear of loss. Think about your own experience and it’s easy to see that your purchases can be traced to a desire to get (or maintain) something you want or to prevent the loss of something you don’t want to lose.

This goes for big and small buying decisions. Why do you move to a new house? (Real estate experts say the three biggest reasons are location, location and location.) Why do you buy new tires when your old ones wear out? (Fear of an accident.) Why do you go to the movies? (Desire for entertainment.) Why do you wait for something to go on sale before buying? (Desire to save money.) Why do you buy a convertible? Why do you join a gym? Why do you buy an insurance policy?
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