Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Maxwell Goes "Wheeee" to the Market

Could switching to Geico really save you 15 percent or more on car insurance?

Who knows? 

To answer the question, a recent Geico commercial turns to the classic “this little piggy” nursery game parents use to entertain the youngest children.

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Just as this little piggy entertains children, this commercial captivates its adult audience. 

The commercial also employs a genre from everyday adult conversation.  Questions about the outcomes of actions or events are often given improbable answers as a means of humorously saying “you can count on it.”

We may accept the implied answer or we may have curious disbelief, so like charmed children we happily call Geico to find out for sure.

Maxwell the pig makes it home, his commercial owns the market.

Copyright © 2010 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Verizon Commercial Makes Ultimate Promise

The ultimate promise is personal empowerment. You can do anything and succeed.

This Verizon commercial speaks to youthful users of its wireless services with a commercial that both challenges and promises.

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The challenge is to turn from everyday conversation to high purposes. The youthful voices acknowledge that their ideas will influence others to the extent they are wise, worthy and flawless.

The promise is to ensure that the most powerful transmitter is you. Verizon's commercial states, "Air has no prejudice, it does not carry the opinions of a man faster than those of a woman, it does not filter out an idea because I am 16 and not 30. Air is unaware if I am black or white, and wouldn't care if it knew."

This admirable commercial is more than a promise to youthful wireless customers. Ultimately, this is a commitment to the importance of always open access in connection with wireless communication.

Copyright © 2010 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Strategic Power of the Theory of Trying

The “Theory of Trying” is a useful psychological approach for thinking about advertising. Many of our daily actions are about repetitive attempts to improve our lives. Dieting, exercise, athletic skill, mental acuity… these are but a few areas where it seems we try and try again.

The Theory of Trying includes such factors as our attitudes toward success, attitudes toward failure, attitudes toward the very act of trying itself, knowledge about the specific actions needed for success, and abilities to measure success.

The more carefully we “break down” the process of trying, the greater is our ability to think strategically about campaigns that can help improve our odds of success.

Now, one reason we don’t conserve enough electricity day-to-day is that we don’t have immediate feedback about our success. Sure we get a monthly power bill. But how much better can we be if we can see the immediate energy consumption consequences of what we do?

The latest work from npower, one of Europe’s leading energy companies, employs the storytelling charm of Wallace and Gromit, but the power in the commercial comes from the Theory of Trying.

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In this commercial, Wallace and Gromit introduce us to the “smart power meter,” that can help us avoid “The Revenge of the Killer Watts.”

Attitude Toward the Ad is certainly at work here, but the power of this commercial comes from clever naming of the consequences of failure, “Killer Watts,” and showing us how to measure our success.

For more perspective on psychological theory and the development of persuasive arguments in advertising, please see Strategic Power of the Theory of Planned Behavior.

Copyright © 2010 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Verizon "Rules" with New Commercial

The high ground for the telephone (telecommunications) business has from the earliest days been the concept of “universal service.” This means connecting everyone wherever they are, regardless of congestion or remoteness.

Since the breakup of the AT&T monopoly in 1984, one of the independent companies created at that time has remained truest to the core value of “universal service.”

Verizon's recent commercial, called “Stage,” transforms the corporate strategic concept “universal service” into a statement of the customers’ personal empowerment.

The commercial is remarkable because it demonstrates effective use of the concept of USP (unique selling proposition). USP claims move the marketplace only to the extent they relate to real consumer concerns.

In this commercial, Verizon tells a story recognizing that your connection is your lifeline. It must be "universal" in the fullest sense, everywhere and every time, without a doubt.

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Verizon has put the “you” in USP. The commercial is a powerful example of the effective alignment of corporate strategy, communication strategy, and creative execution.

The line “rule the air,” the check mark use of the Verizon logo, the building music and imagery, and the immediacy of the voice… there is not a false moment in this commercial.

This work is brilliant.

BTW, all my students know I highly recommend reading the book Reality in Advertising by Rosser Reeves.  Rosser Reeves was the original articulator of the USP concept. His book was written in 1960, but remains one of the most useful books ever written on advertising thinking.

Copyright © 2010 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Understanding "Sustainable Social Action"™

In yesterday’s post I wrote about the fundamentals for understanding the changing relationship between everyday communication and commercial speech.

The concept of “social currency” is at the center when it comes to understanding how people act. What we choose to do is basically “all about me” and then it really isn’t.

The overarching driver in human action is how we act to support the welfare of others. On one level this could be said to be altruistic behavior, and on another it can be seen as self-interested action taken to maintain our social standing. This is the basis of dynamic and sustainable social action.

For a more complete understanding of my typology of human goals, placed in a data-driven analysis of the views of the youth population in the United States read “Why do youth enlist? Identification of Underlying Themes” in Armed Forces & Society, 2006. This article explains the reasoning leading to my "Theory of Sustainable Social Action."™


Much of the content of today’s commercial speech assumes people choose products on the basis of an “all about me” outlook. That’s the fundamental mistake that has led many businesses down the path to price-based competitive ruin.

My typology and theory are essential to understanding effective strategic communication. They are foundational for thinking strategically about core values and communication strategy for brands, organizations, social causes and political campaigns.


Copyright © 2010 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Transformative Impact of Social Network Services

For the public, the motivation to use social network services such as FaceBook fundamentally comes down to “seeking and sharing.” It is all about social currency and our participation in real or aspirational social groupings so as to maintain and advance our standing. This is a fundamental human need, a driver that makes social life possible.

For advertisers, FaceBook and other social network services present the opportunity to move beyond the long-standing practice of viewing “the media” as the primary "attention structures" in which to purchase time and space. Now, sellers of products and services can place their information directly in the midst of the everyday cultural conversation where social life takes place.

This transformation in the social location of commercial speech also involves time acceleration. In the Internet Age, the traditional concept of rumor (or news) spreads at the speed of light, and we call the fastest of them “virals.”

The concept of location is changing, too. Once, traditional banners could be thought of as billboards placed in strategic locations on the information super highway. Now what matters is the real-time, real-life location of individual members of the public. Anything connected to us electronically can respond to us based on where we are at the moment.

So, commercial speech not only takes place more naturalistically in the midst of everyday conversation, it can now know where we are and therefore speak with even greater relevance to our momentary interests.

The medium is no longer just the message. Importantly, in this world, "messages create the media."


Copyright © 2010 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.