- Fri, July 25 2008
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
We can’t easily change what our audiences believe, but by plugging into their existing mind-set we unleash great power behind our benefit exchangen—and our message.
The values of our audience may have nothing to do with our cause, but we can still use them. Consider the messages we see every day and the values they represent. Ads for women’s running shoes are all about strength and empowerment. They practically scream, “I am woman!” Pharmaceutical ads during the nightly news show how certain drugs help seniors attain what they want: a happy and independent life. During a televised basketball game, an ad for men’s deodorant shows a woman ripping a man’s clothes off in an elevator. No need for interpretation there. Each of these ads reflects a value the target users of the products care about, think about, and deeply desire. And each is fairly far removed from the product in question. Is self-actualization related to running shoes? Does arthritis medication buy happiness? Are deodorants the first thing that comes to mind when you think about sexual desire? Probably not, but the associations work because the values in question are close to each audience’s heart.
A famous, frequently cited example of the value-based principle at work in social advertising is the successful Don’t Mess with Texas campaign. The phrase has become so famous that many people outside Texas don’t even realize that this is not a state slogan but rather a long-running marketing effort to get people to stop littering. The young Texan men who were the target of the campaign didn’t care about littering, but they did care about their macho image, and no one doubted the fierce pride they had for their home state. By tapping into these powerful feelings with the Don’t Mess with Texas concept, which didn’t have a thing to do with trash, the ad agency that created the campaign (GSD&M) drastically reduced roadside litter.
Remember: Make your message about what your audience’s values, not your own, if you want people to listen.