Advertising Strategy

The Magic Bullet of advertising

In a post last week, I critiqued Microsoft’s latest ads for their use of fake-real scenarios.

However, there is a time when these can pay off (but it’s not advertising as we in the UK know it)…

Picture the scene: it’s 2009 and my partner & I are chilling out after a hard day’s pavement pounding in Toronto. We’re back in our suite and flick on the TV, to be greeted by this:

I admit that we missed the start of it, and were somewhat jet-lagged. But we sat there for a couple of moments wondering what we’d stumbled onto.

Was it a cookery show, like Masterchef (only cheaper)? Was it a CTV filler? Was it an advert?

For a few confusing minutes, we had no idea.

The problem was, we’re not used to 10 minute plus TV commercials. And certainly not ones that look like the sort of fare we’re subjected to on weekend TV.

However, the ad was surprisingly effective – we wanted a Magic Bullet.

And I don’t think that we’ve ever seen an ad for a kitchen appliance back in the UK that netted the same effect.

Why do I think it worked?

Four main reasons:

1) It’s actually a useful advert. Not only does it sell you the product, but it sells you (and demonstrates) the useful time saving that you can get through using it.

Run out of dips at a party? No problem and no hungry guests.

Plus it suggests things that you might like to serve at said dinner party (or have for your evening meal).

2) The ad is set in a familiar space. We’ve all had friends round for a few drinks and nibbles. We’ve all seen those low-budget TV cookery shows. We can relate to what’s going on.

3) It’s sort of sweet. The chef’s like-able enough, the guests are people you can relate to. It’s got a look-at-me factor.

4) Here’s the killer point – it’s got audio-stickability.

In other words, you’re attracted to the advert because of the clash of accents.

We latched onto it because of the chef’s (over the top) English accent. It was a voice from home.

For Canadians, I’m guessing that the surprise of hearing such a strident English accent would probably get them pricking up their ears.

It’s not what you expect and, for a brief moment, that’s enough to get the audience’s attention. As I said before, you need to captivate, seduce and activate people to get them to buy something.

The voice captivates by cutting through all of the other noise, the ease of use and dinner party inspiration seduces and the ‘how to buy’ information provides an easy activation outlet (no need to make a trip into town, just lift the phone).

Don’t get me wrong, it’s no Honda Cog or Guiness surfer. And while I wouldn’t call it great advertising, it’s certainly effective.

Or was in my case. Because although you can’t buy these in the UK anymore, we managed to get an as-new one second hand. Victory for the kitchen and victory for the advertisers.

Now that’s good advertising.

So, the moral of this story is as follows: if you’re going to do fake-real advertising, go all out. Pull out all the stops and make a 10 minute monster. Make something that demonstrates over and over why your product is so great, while giving the audience some real value as a reward for sitting through your creation.

Give the audience a bit of credit and something to think about.

Maybe Microsoft needs a Magic Bullet…


So - what did you think? Love it? Loathe it? Have something to add? Well, what are you waiting for?

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