Agency people sometimes have a certain image of the consumers we speak to – hardened cynics, distrustful of advertising, wary of every product benefit or offer we put in front of them. I don’t think that’s always true.
• An online ad saying, “Someone in Victoria has a crush on you!”
• Future Shop’s recent VIP sale – savings only for their most important customers…that is, everyone who saw an ad for the sale.
• A hot sauce claiming to be so insanely hot you must sign a release waiving any right to pursue charges if you are harmed while using it.
If we were all rational cynics, we would resist these messages as obvious marketing puffery. But we don’t, do we? It’s human nature to think ‘what if’…look left and right… and click on the ad or make the purchase. Maybe it’s passed down from our ancestors who paid to see outrageously promoted circus acts and magic shows, or saw an ad for a pet ghost in the back of a comic book and sent away $1.00 for their own. Maybe our brains can’t totally separate the fictional worlds for which we suspend our disbelief (books, movies), and the world of advertising.
There’s nothing wrong with a little fiction in advertising. Sure, the end result is always disappointment, but does it harm our long-term perception of the brand, or is it more like buying a lottery ticket – where deep down you know you’ll never win, but the momentary thrill makes the money and effort worth it?