Ever seen this ad before? If you can believe it, it’s a McDonalds ad from a few years ago. In their effort to be really hip and cool, they accidentally offended and annoyed the very audience they were trying to impress. Unbeknownst to the out-of-touch marketing department, they were encouraging young men to copulate with hamburgers. Based on the guy’s expression, it appears that he was actually considering it. Those double cheeseburgers must be really good.
What’s the lesson here? There are far too many to list, but these are the ones that come to mind:
- Know your audience. If you’re speaking to a young, urban demographic, have some sort of knowledge regarding slang terms. Corollary: don’t encourage sex with your products.
- Know yourself. If you don’t have all the answers, it’s ok. Just don’t fake it, or you might end up looking foolish (and, in McDonalds’ case, creepy as hell).
Obviously, this was a big blunder, but McDonalds is so huge they were able to absorb the impact and not skip a beat. A smaller company, however, might not be so lucky, so unless you’re a behemoth like Ronald McDonald you should avoid these types of mistakes at all costs.
June 17, 2009 at 12:56 am
Build it and they will come.
If only that were true.
Too often, marketing and product teams fall prey to what I call “Field of Dreams” marketing. Whether it’s a slick new website, or a shiny new product, or a fancy new advertising campaign, many companies will rely on their internal ‘tribal knowledge’ and fail to research, survey, measure, and test new marketing/sales/product ideas. There’s an assumption that, if there are enough people that believe in it, it will inevitably become successful. Even worse is the idea that so much time and money has been sunk into something that there’s no turning back. These thought processes can prove fatal for companies, especially during a recession, when cash is tight and customers are hard to find.
I have a dirty little secret to share: using good processes on the front end can actually help save you time and money on the back end. So how can you avoid stepping on the Field of Dreams? There are several things you can do to sidestep the pitfalls… let’s focus on the three examples above:
- A slick new website – good websites are expensive, and if they aren’t done right they can actually act as a barrier to customer acquisition (for more on websites, read my entry “Your website is your strongest sales tool“). Ask your customers about your ideas to change the site. Develop a clear plan for what you want your site to accomplish. Hire an experienced expert.
- A shiny new product – CEOs and VPs love to use their “instincts” to determine the next generation of products and services. Resist the temptation or the results can be disastrous. Use honest-to-goodness focus groups, advisory panels, and marketing research to complement the internal knowledge.
- A fancy new advertising campaign – alas, marketing teams just love to develop new ideas for communicating to a company’s audience, but that can be dangerous if kept unchecked, leading to groupthink marketing or even worse (yes, that’s a real McDonalds ad). Remember your audience; if your communicating with software developers, for example, you wouldn’t want anything over-the-top or cheesy because they would resist it like the plague.
You get the idea. By applying best practices, like the Aximum Marketing Success Cycle, you can make sure your efforts are focused and on-target. Just keep your eye on the ball and you’ll be fine.
May 18, 2009 at 4:07 am