Marketing Fail: No Ifs, Ands or Butts

September 10, 2013

So much of today’s television, advertising, and popular celebrities have embraced the homosexual community. There’s Glee, The New Normal, and Modern Family, just to name a few. There’s Neil Patrick Harris, Melissa Gilbert, Anderson Cooper, among many, many others, whom have stood proud of their orientation, as the rest of the general population claps (or jeers) in support (or not, but that’s not my point). There are so many advertisers now hopping on to the LGBTQ bandwagon. Some successfully, and some…not so much.

Really? Anyone else see what I see? Chances are this was put together by a team of people who were more concerned with being socially current, and less concerned with connecting with their audience.  A team of people reviewed this ad, and no one saw anything wrong with it??

Of course, I’d imagine none of you would make a serious mistake like this one.  And if you do, hopefully your mistake is not on a billboard.  This opens up the question: How could this failure of an ad have been avoided? I have a few suggestions:

1) Know Your Audience-I cannot stress this enough! Gear your marketing towards those you are selling to. That means identifying your audience (demographics, geographics, psychographics) and designing your ad so it speaks to them (show a benefit, provide a solution to a problem, etc.) while keeping your message clear, and your focus concise.

2) Connect the Dots-The gay couple isn’t the issue. The phone number isn’t the issue. The message is! It doesn’t make sense, and from your audience’s perspective, it’s likely offensive.  Make sure you are conveying your message successfully without concurrently relaying other, less-appealing messages.  It’s the ones you don’t want to translate that will come across the strongest.

3) Check, Check, and Re-Check-It never fails, there’s always a misspelled word, a small point you may have missed, and it’s ok!  It happens sometimes. But if you’re not careful, a glaring mistake can cost you clients, business, and make your brand (or your client’s brand) a mockery. You want positive attention, not bloggers like me showcasing your horrendous mistakes.

4) Pay Attention-I’m sure (at least, I hope) the Smokers’ Helpline hired a marketing firm to create an ad for them. Maybe they trusted their hired firm and didn’t realize what the ad looked like until it was too late. If you hire someone to highlight your brand, be present in the process. You care about your company more and know your company better than anyone else.  If the proof, spec ad or the example of the marketing plan does not align with your vision, speak up. Ultimately, you and your business will be hurt the most if something goes wrong.

5) Be Consistent-You want your audience to know who you are by the colors you choose, the logos or images that represent you, and the tagline everyone will memorize. Your message must also be consistent.   This ad is giving us two different messages, which threatens the brand consistency and the brand appeal.

Here is another, much better example of an ad for the Smokers’ Helpline:


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