Monday, October 17

Does Anyone Want My Money?

I am honored to be asked by my friend Mike Brown from Brainzooming to participate in a project he is doing with The University of Kansas.  Along with two professors there (Max Utsler and Barrett Syndor), he created Blogapalooza where a bunch of us marketing bloggers allow guest posts from graduate students.  I love having guest bloggers here because they always represent a different approach and a different voice, which is what marketing is all about.  Today is my first one from Blogapalooza ...  from Sean Roark, a marketing manager at Village Shalom and a graduate student.

What's your experience, Sean?  Jim.

The more I watch television, read magazines, or consume any type of mass media, the more I realize most marketers have no interest in getting my money.  I take that back, they must have interest in my money.  Why else would they spend millions on media to reach me?

The issue is that I never see myself in ads.  I see plenty of guys who look like me -- just no one like me.  The problem most marketers have isn't that they have the buy wrong; they just have the guy wrong.

The following is a list of repeat offenses.  You've seen each of these guys in countless tired attempts at broad-reaching marketing.  The clips are semi-comical, buy the only result they've achieved with me is for me to remember to make my purchases from their competitors.

The Dumb Guy
Sorry -- I'm not the bumbling buffoon whose existence is solely ensured by a wife or female co-worker.  And if I am, I'll never admit it.  Maybe it's just me, but men sure do seem to be portrayed as the dumbass exorbitantly more than women.  Have advertisers turned to the writers of "Everybody Loves Raymond" for male character development?  According to them, us guys are just a bunch of lazy morons with no grasp of reality, solely focused on our next nap or scratch.  The dumb guy shtick is cliche, lame and sure as hell doesn't make me want to buy your product.

The Spineless Guy
The spineless guy is often mistaken as the dumb guy, but there is a key difference -- spineless guy is supposedly smart.  Spineless guy makes me sick.  Spineless guy is always right but he quietly takes abuse or silently stares as his manhood is stripped by an obnoxious female.  Stand up and be a man for God's sake.  Image advertising is supposed to appeal to the core desires of your target market.  The only desires spineless man fulfills are those of an overbearing woman.  Spineless guy is not only a disgrace to his wife; he's a disgrace to his gender and to the advertisers who constantly look to him to peddle their wares.

The Meaningless Innovation Guy
Meaningless innovation guy is awestruck by everything.  I guess that's what you would expect from something that just crawled out of a cave.  Beer companies are notorious for their offenses in this category. I get it, you're selling the same product you were 100 years ago, so your innovations are limited exclusively to packaging.  In 2010, Coors Light found moderate success with one of the top meaningless innovations of all time -- the blue mountain revealing Coors Light is, indeed, cold and suitable to drink.  The latest "innovation," however, has revealed that Coors Light's CMO is in need of a slip that is colored pink.  Super-Cold Activation has revealed that Coors Light has mailed it in and is willing to forgo any attempts at differentiation for 2011 -- congrats Budweiser.

Let's Try Harder
Perhaps I'm being overly sensitive on this matter, but advertising is a form of entertainment.  It devours half of our television time, after all.  Isn't it time for the majority of advertisers to evolve from slapstick stereotypes to a higher form of amusement?  Others are doing it -- and doing it quite well.  Has anything done more to improve the taste of ghastly Mexican beer than "The Most Interesting Man in the World?"  Has any advertiser improved their brand's image more over the last year than Chrysler with their "Imported from Detroit" campaign?

Our society has come a long way over the last century.  Why do we have to keep shifting the butt of the joke to a new race or gender?  You can produce an entertaining broad-appeal commercial without alienating half of your audience with lazy vaudeville.  You can still be funny, without your male whipping boy.  And you can have my business if  you quit making me and others like me look like jackasses.

- Sean Roark, Graduate Student in the Integrated Marketing Communications Program at The University of Kansas


  1. Well said.

    Employing dumb, spineless and meaningless innovation loving male characters in ad campaigns are not likely to be successful strategies for cornering the market on intellectual, self-assured men.

    I also don't believe a nearly naked Paris Hilton eating a spicy BBQ burger provoked many highly evolved women to rush out to the nearest Carls Jr/Hardees for a six buck burger either.

    But do both approaches resonate with their campaign's target audience? I'm guessing they do. And I agree, it's a shame.

  2. On some level, they must. Thanks for the great comment. Jim.