Crazy Ideas that Just Might Work (#1)

I was in a creative meeting this week. We were talking about a client that wanted to do an exciting sale ad. It’s not the type of thing you particularly dream of making a commercial about, but it does come up fairly often. Usually they all sound the same. Listeners know exactly what to expect from them and for that reason they tend to tune them out more than anything. They’re not fantastic ads if they’re executed the way 99% of them are done. They can work though. If you want to run ads like this, my advice would be to buy a lot of frequency. It will take a lot more plays to cut through if your commercial is just shouting sales figures. Some better advice would be to not do sale ads at all. It really does just train your customers to only visit you if you’re having a sale. It’s a vicious cycle. But, if you still want to have a sale, there’s no reason why you can’t make your advertising sound different.

There are a lot of ideas out there that have never (or seldomly) been used. Those can be gold in advertising. Sitting in my creative meeting, searching for new sale ideas, I thought of a fun twist. It’s an idea so strange that it would be a tough sell to get a client to jump on it. That’s usually a sign of a really good (different) idea. The best campaigns will almost always require some courage from the person buying it. Fortunately, their courage is often returned with above average success. For the sake of conversation, let’s say the client was a car dealership. My idea was to find a competing dealership to jump on the buy for a different kind of campaign. Yes, I’m talking about two competitors from the same category working together (and not in a collusion type of way.) I thought it’d be really cool if the two dealerships had a (fun) radio flame war. They’d both give permission to use each other’s names in their respective commercials. The campaign would start with one dealership taking a minor shot at the other one. The shot would be returned in the other dealerships ad. I’d want the insults to be very ridiculous. Spot by spot the rivalry would escalate to a fever pitch. It would be important to make sure the ads both ran in the same stop set on the same station (maybe back to back.) Most listeners will think it’s a real fight and might start talking about the ridiculous feud going out over the airwaves. The more talk you get the better.

So, some of you may still be thinking, “why would I want to team up with my competitor?” Think of it this way. By working together you’d effectively double your buy and double your frequency. With the extra publicity you’d get from the stunt you’d get exponentially more interest from customers. It would stand out on the radio a lot more. You can’t think about it driving business to your competitor. It’s not really a fair way to judge the promotion. My argument would be that you’d reach way more people for your money. It’s likely that half would go to one dealership & half to the other, with many that would go to both. In the end, the real war would take place on the sale floor. The whole point of advertising is to get people to walk through your doors. What I’m trying to say is, don’t discredit any idea that will do that. Most of the time, the craziest sounding ideas are the ones that work the best. When you stop thinking of your advertisements in the common or conventional “safe” way, you open your business to so many more opportunities. Instead of thinking, “why would I partner with my competitor?” try thinking “why wouldn’t I?” “How could I benefit from what others would consider ridiculous.” When you realize that even your competitors can be an ally in advertising, you’ll be ready to explore an infinite number of fun ways to promote your business.