Marketing Innovation: Sharks to the Extreme

by | Oct 3, 2011 | Advertising Tools, Culture of Innovation | 0 comments

Great television commercials deliver the right message in a creative way.  Great commercials are memorable.  The longer customers remember your commercial, the more cost effective the campaign. 

One way to make memorable ads is to make them funny and vivid.  The Vividness Effect causes people to recall experiences and images that stand out in their minds.  Images of wild creatures like sharks, for example, tend to be good choices to create vividness.  But just showing sharks in a commercial is not enough.  They have to be fused to the core marketing message – the value proposition.  That is where you need a structured innovation method to channel the creativity process and regulate your thinking.

Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues describe eight such tools in their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," and provide a step-by-step approach to using them. The tools are 1. Unification 2. Activation 3. Metaphor 4. Subtraction 5. Extreme Consequence 6. Absurd Alternative 7. Inversion and 8.Extreme Effort.

Let's look at two examples.  The first uses the EXTREME CONSEQUENCE tool.  This tool conveys the absurd result of using the product or service.  By over exaggerating the brand promise, the ad is viewed as clever and credible versus traditional exaggeration.  It is particularly useful when the product is well-understood.  These ads can help viewers see secondary attributes in new ways.  Snickers does this well in this 2011 commercial.  The exaggeration here is: "Snickers is so good that sharks prefer to eat humans who have eaten a Snickers bar."


The second pattern is the INVERSION Tool.  It conveys what would happen if you didn’t have the product…in an extreme way.  It shows the benefits “lost”  by not using the product.  It is also best used when the brand and its central benefits are well understood by the viewer.  Otherwise, they may see the ad and have no clue what is going on.  To use the Inversion Tool, start with the components of the brand promise.  Take each one away one at a time and envision in what ways the consumer would be affected…in an extreme way…if it did not have this aspect of the promise.

Gillette's shark ad is a perfect example.  It compares the consequences of using their new product versus the old disposable razor.  Bloody good.