Monday, March 9, 2015

To Be Made To Think Is To Agree

When someone challenges you to take a test, you generally take them up on it. Just look at all the tests people are sharing on Facebook these days.

Let's say you are asked to watch closely to see if any street scene passers by are noticing a new model of a car parked by the sidewalk. You would mostly likely try it.


Students who have taken my Psychology of Advertising classes easily recognize this technique as an example of the Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion.  To persuade in a memorable manner, messages must garner attention, hold attention, and invite the audience to think. Thinking is called "elaboration" in this conceptual model, hence the theory's name. 

So now, take the test.
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The results of effective elaboration messages have been shown to be longer lasting attitude change as well as attitudes that are more resistant to competing messages. You have been thinking about the new Skoda Fabia.

Advertising scholars will remember a classic 1972 VW Beetle commercial that also used this "attention test" idea.
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Both the Skoda and VW commercials are quite admirable. Think about them.

Copyright © 2015 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Data Driven Creativity?

Daylight Savings Time begins today. It's time to think about "data driven creativity."

In this era of big data, algorithms, and automated advertising, it is important to remember that customers don't respond so much to details. They don't really care about analytics driven digital adjustments to color, size, features, and media environment driven tailoring for specific audiences. Truly, in that approach you risk "averaging your way to average."

Customers care about ideas. That is how humans think and feel.

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The great irony about ideas, is that the more they are parsed, analyzed, and rationalized, the less they become.

So, when someone proposes an analytics driven approach to your communication plan, be sure to step back. Look for the big idea, one that will capture the imagination of customers. Ideas are important. We cannot think without them, they are the very medium of thought and emotion.

Remember my advice. Ideas too heavily scrutinized can become ideas sadly vaporized.

Copyright © 2015 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Clucking Bunny

The days are getting longer. Indeed, in the United States, this coming Saturday night we "spring" our clocks ahead for daylight savings time.

Of course, springtime is a traditional time of renewal. And, eggs and rabbits are the twin folkloristic symbols of the season.


Legend has it, for those who have been on their best behavior during this season, an "Osterhase" will bring them brightly colored eggs as gifts.

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This commercial, titled "Clucking Bunny" was created in the early 1980s by the wonderful creative department at Young & Rubicam in New York.

Copyright © 2015 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Brand Archetype Assessor

The concept of brand archetype is well established as a managerial tool. It is a productive way of placing brand personalities and brand communication in a cultural context.

There are many alternative models of archetype structures that help brand planners think about alternative archetypes.

However, what is needed is a productive means of assessing brand archetypes and placing them in a competitive context.

Here is my Brand Archetype Assessor. It will help you accomplish that goal.


You see that the cardinal dimensions are rational versus emotional and active versus passive. There is a vast amount of scholarly literature supporting these as key dimensions.

Then, within the cardinal directions, you will notice the sub-dimensions of productive versus creative and mindful versus playful.

I've illustrated these major dimensions with brand exemplars. Let me know if you have questions, and I am also available to make presentations on this and other topics.

 Copyright © 2015 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Brand Personality and Success

Advertising statesman Emerson Foote said, "No one would ever use advertising if they could meet all their customers face to face."

His insight points to the fact that people look first to their personal information sources, rather than media sources.

Theory Basis

Not only do people look first to personal information sources, as social beings we draw upon our person perception skills to give meaning to the entire world around us. Dark skies are threatening, sunshine is friendly. The babbling brook bespeaks a happy attitude.

We call this phenomenon "anthropomorphism," the attribution of human characteristics, traits, and motives to entities and forces in the world around us.

Of course, brands, products, services, and organizations are commonly seen this way. Indeed, a brand without a personality is not very interesting.

Lessons from the Classics


King Arthur Flour is the oldest continuously operating company in the United States. Although founded in 1790, the company did not choose King Arthur as its brand name until 1890 when an owner attended a performance of the musical King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Although a seemingly implausible means of selecting a brand name, with no apparent connection to flour, the kingly imagery of the Arthur legend presumably lends to the brand a sense of leadership, integrity and good times in days of old. Today, the highly informative King Arthur Flour website begins with this logo prominently positioned so as to welcome your visit.


The logo is prominent on the package. Notice also the action oriented call out. It leads you to a side panel that welcomes you into the community of bakers. Integrated Marketing Communication and Content Management is nothing new to this centuries old company. Indeed, these practices are really now new, just the terminology used by people who are "relatively" new to the business.

Underwood Deviled Ham is actually the oldest continuously marketed trade marked food brand in the United States. When it comes to food preparation, deviling means seasonings play a major role giving the food a spicy taste. So, for this brand we see a clear connection between the devilish imagery and the sought after taste experience of the brand.


Indeed, this classic print ad from 1911 demonstrates some devilishly good copywriting. The visual is wonderfully in tune with the personality of the brand. Were the brand to begin reinvesting in advertising, this print ad gives productive direction concerning content and personality.


Turning to brand personality in contemporary advertising, MetLife stands out as one of the strongest brand personalities. In the early 1980's the company began searching for a new creative direction to replace the traditional problem-solution case studies that typify insurance company advertising. At Y&R in New York, senior copywriter George Watts proposed a campaign based on the Peanuts cartoon characters. Snoopy was to play the leading role, of course.


The customer insight is all about brand personality. No one wants to talk to an insurance agent. So, with Snoopy as the spokesperson the brand immediately became a friend. Snoopy is possibly the most highly effective door opener. But going beyond personality, the scenarios and cast of characters allow for charming narratives to explain otherwise complicated and boring insurance products and procedures.

This customer insight leads directly to my typology for evaluating and managing brand personality.

Eighmey's Brand Personality Success Grid

Human behavior comes down to the concepts of thinking, feeling, and doing. What we choose to do is supported by what we think and feel.

These elemental concepts provide the framework for a model or typology for evaluating the performance of brand personalities as they directly compete in the marketplace. Importantly, this allows us to evaluate brand personalities in their competitive frames.


Turning to the Brand Personality Success Grid, you can see how MetLife's brand personality relationship with customers is based on high levels of feeling and more extensive narrative content about the brand. In contrast, Geico's stance is to ask customers to concentrate on a simple fact about speed of transaction.

Now, all four of these brands are mounting successful advertising campaigns. The point is to recognize the basis of the continuing relationships with their customers when it comes to thinking and feeling. My typology suggests that to support long run relationships more of both is better.

What does my Brand Personality Success Grid look like for the brands in your product category?

  Copyright © 2015 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Candor As Advertising Message Strategy

Candor is an illuminating word. From Latin, it communicates brilliancy and purity. We are said to be candid, or speaking with candor, when acting in a forthcoming and honest matter to say what we believe.

Indeed, the highest levels of candor introduce self-criticism, even to the extent of self-depreciation, so as to lay all considerations on a question or argument open for review and scrutiny.

Candor is rarely seen in advertising. A brand generally concentrates on its unique selling proposition, clearly setting forth a relative advantage over its competitors. Successful communication of a single-minded message in mass communication is thought to be challenging enough without the added burden of introducing complexities and conditions.

Consumer research tells us this makes sense when communicating with people who already buy into an idea or message. Single-minded messages do help promote loyalty.


But, when it comes to converting people to a new idea, or inviting them to switch brands, candor may have an important role to play. Interestingly, this finding about the effectiveness of "two-sided" message arguments is one of the oldest empirically documented outcomes in the modern era of scientific research on persuasive communication. This comes from the classic Yale Attitude Change Studies of the 1940s and 50s.

The widely admired VW campaign of the 1960s and 70s was based on this customer insight. Faced with the daunting task of competing with well-entrenched Detroit brands, VW employed a message of self-depreciating humor to convert consumers to the brand.

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This 1971 Karmann Ghia commercial is a particularly effective vehicle to appreciate the fundamental customer insight underlying the entire VW campaign. While competitors focused on the excitement of an annual race involving styling, size, and horsepower, VW concentrated on smaller cars and admitted certain shortcomings.

Candor, as shown here in the form of a "two-sided" message strategy, remains an effective approach, particularly when the audience is discerning and the goal is converting them to a new viewpoint.

Beyond truth, when it comes to advertising message strategy, it is candor that counts.

  Copyright © 2015 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Kmart Wins 2015 Valentine's Day Advertising Sweepstakes

Brands aspiring to be leaders in their product categories would do well to employ storytelling to portray how they help customers lead fuller, happier, more productive lives.

Valentine's Day is near. Thoughts and tokens of love are everywhere.


Indeed, Valentine's Day is one of the most opportune times for brand storytelling.

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This commercial is a wonderful example of how brands can position themselves as playing important roles in the contemporary context of everyday life in America. Here, the brand is acting as far more than a store where you can buy a seasonal item. The brand becomes your partner helping you achieve things that really matter to you.

The commercial is well conceived and produced. It is full of nuanced detail, a true example of a "rich media" experience with layers of meaning giving rise to strong emotional responses.

Without a doubt, Kmart has won the 2015 Valentine's Day Advertising Sweepstakes and taught every retail brand a powerful lesson about how to communicate as a leader.

 Copyright © 2015 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.