Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Breaking the rules

with 2 comments

the_thinkerIf you’re in marketing, you probably have a good sense of what you think works well for your clients. In college, I had a professor tell me that the client’s name should be mentioned a minimum of 3 times in a TV spot. David Ogilvy once professed that we should be selling in frame one and don’t stop until the message is done.

These “hard and fast” rules may not apply for every spot or every situation. How often do you see a TV spot on air that doesn’t let you know the client or product being pitched until into the spot?

Today, the fad seems to be to tell the viewer that you can relate to their predicament, spend time talking about how they’ve been around forever and will continue to be, and only at the end do we know who “they” are. One of the best examples of this type of advertising concept might be from Allstate Insurance. If you’ve seen their recent ads, then you know the actor Dennis Haysbert is their spokesman. If you can get past thinking he’s either Jonas Blane (“The Unit”) or David Palmer (“24”), then once he’s on your screen, you know you’re watching an Allstate ad. What if you don’t? As you’re watching the spot, he’s not talking about insurance products or coverage. He’s talking about you and your family. He’s talking about the economy. Only well into the spot does he start to tie the company to the conversation.

Clever and masterful. But yet, if the copywriters at the agency were in my copywriting class in college, they would have gotten an ‘F’. This isn’t so much an indictment on my school as it is illustrative of how school is the time to learn the rules. The real world is the time to learn how to break them properly.

What are your “hard and fast” rules when developing your marketing messages? When is it appropriate to break them?

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Written by Jeff York

March 8, 2009 at 11:31 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Seth Godin has a good dose of antidote to these current marketing ‘dogmas’. He breaks a lot of the rules 🙂

    ggw_bach

    March 8, 2009 at 9:26 pm

  2. This post brings up several good points:

    Our culture is used to short form entertainment. With YouTube and the like, we can stand a monologue about family and turn it into an AllState ad. Some ads focus too much on the entertain and miss out on the product.

    “Learn the rule to know when to break them” works in just about every field. It’s the tempering of that sword and the experience to know when to swing it that make all the difference.

    Christopher

    March 8, 2009 at 11:45 pm


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