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Are you still surprised?

Viewers of this year’s NCAA March Madness On Demand see two commercials over and over again: a Buick ad where Peter Frampton sits in for the missing guitarist in the bar band, and a Coke Zero where a guy about to be executed by firing squad gets his last wish “and … ?”

Both are great spots the first time you see them because they rely on the unexpected, and they continue to be enjoyable the next few times as the message sinks in… then they become really, really irritating. The fault is not so much with the creative as the media buy: who knew they would be played to the point of exhaustion? Well, somebody did, but they didn’t bother to inform the creatives.

But actually there is something wrong with the creative: in both cases it has nothing to do with the product being sold. I bet you didn’t know that was a Buick ad till I reminded you (I had thought it was Hyundai, till I went back and checked). A desire for “more” could be applied to any of life’s positive experiences. These ads never go beneath the surface which is one reason they get tiresome so quickly.

If you’re creating campaigns and messages, think about the implications. Is there a way to make your message evergreen so people continue to be receptive after multiple viewings or readings? Think of a book or movie you like that becomes more interesting the second time through. What is it that keeps you involved… a story twist you didn’t notice the first time? Maybe a subtle graphic detail? And the plot itself is probably deeply satisfying, like the stories that ancient peoples told over and over till they became part of their identity.

Is there a way to make your ad that good? It’s worth trying, at least.


#1 Robby C on 03.25.12 at 9:36 pm

GM is doing their best agitate all the March Madness viewing public. The Frampton Buick ad is tough to take, but the mother of all insufferable ads we painfully see over and over again is the Chevy ad with the tone-deaf woman butchering a Spandau Ballet song.
Government bailout for this?

#2 Otis Maxwell on 03.26.12 at 6:26 am

LOL, Robby!

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