The nostalgia factor is what Acura seems to be going after in its new 2012 Funny Super bowl commercials called “Transactions” staring Jerry Sienfield and Jay Leno. The question is, will it sell cars?
Here is the ad:
How motivated are you to run out and get more information on the new car? That is the big question for Acura. And really, that is the only criteria with which we can judge a commercial. I’ll say it again: “How well does it stimulate us to buy the product?”
Here is my take, and my prediction for the advertisement.
Selling Snob Appeal
I think Acura is trying to sell us on the fact that the rich-and-famous want it real bad, and if we want to be like them, we need to go out and get in line too. This is called the snob appeal, or the greed appeal.
This is an established selling technique, but it works best on people with the Logistical personality types. And that is the problem… This particular sports car is not the typical car that the Logistical personality type person would buy. They would be more into a versatile car that had lots of uses. This car should be aimed at the Warrior. So right off the bat, there is a mis-match between the product being sold, and the advertising message being delivered.
Selling Limited Availability?
My first thought was that the appeal being tried here was that the car has “limited availability.” That would have been a great appeal to use on the Warrior personality type. They want to be the only ones to own a product. Why? Because they view things as weapons, and they want to be the only one with the latest and greatest weapon. They don’t want their foes to have the same weapon that they do, or else it loses its effectiveness.
But this commercial isn’t selling limited availability. The car will be available, and I’m sure that Acura wants to sell billions of them.
That brings me back to the basic appeal is being one of snob appeal.
The other mismatch that this commercial has to do with the Law-of-Association. Basically, the law-of-association in regards to advertising, is that people buy products to be like someone famous (or powerful). This is why celebrity endorsements are often used in advertising.
But here is the key concept that you have to grasp for this to work: the celebrity must have the same personality type as your target market.
For example, if you want to sell to Warriors, you need to pick a celebrity that has a Warrior personality themselves. If you want to sell to Logisticals, you need to pick a celebrity that has a Logistical personality type.
In this particular commercial, we have two different personality types being used for to make the connection to the target prospect: Strategist, and Logistical. Remember, the target market for this type of product in this funny Super Bowl commercial are the Warriors. Do you see a problem here?
Jerry Sienfield and Jay Leno both have the Strategist personality type. That is the problem. But they are funny guys, which the Warriors appreciate. So for that aspect, they might get a pass; even though they could have done better had they picked celebrities with the Warrior personality type.
Who’s Number One?
But this commercial has an even worse mismatch. The guy that was number one on the list, that Jerry tries to woo to get to be on the top of the list, is a Logistical. You can tell by the seriousness written on his face. There are other clues you can use too, which you can see in the Personality Marketing Manual.
I guarantee to you, the Warrior does not want to be associated with the Logistical personality type. That kills the effectiveness of the commercial right there. Even if the guy was number two in line, it is still a Logistical having the car.
What Emotion Is Being Triggered?
As you know, I put a very high priority on stimulating emotions in your ads, because that is what gets people to plunk down their money and buy your product. This is critical in a TV ad, because there is a time lag between when the person first sees the commercial, and when they decide to go out and buy the product. It is “emotional stimulation” that carries them across the time-lag chasm.
I highly recommend that you read my Kindle book “Emotional Copywriting Revealed.” It is a bargain at just 99 cents. It would have save Acura millions of dollars by avoiding a commercial that misses the target like this one does.
Obviously, with the humor in the advertisement (it is funny, I’ll agree), the emotion that they are trying to stimulate is Surprise and then Enjoyment.
We definitely see the surprise emotion being triggered. But does the surprise lead to “enjoyment?” Not in Jerry’s case. The surprise emotion leads to a feeling of anger. He gets frustrated again and again because he doesn’t sway the Logistical guy to give up his place in line to buy the car.
The law of association applies here too. The emotional message transfers to us as buyers. While we want positive emotions to be associated with the product, in this case we get anger. And obviously, anger is an emotion with negative connotations. At the end of the ad, we see Jerry sitting in a coffee shop, and you can feel the bitterness dripping off of him. Yikes!
What does that say to potential buyers of the car? It says to me, don’t even attempt it. Because if things don’t go my way, I’ll be just like Jerry; a bitter, frustrated old man that hangs out with Nazi’s, guys dressed as sun-flowers, and weird people that look like aliens.
What are the Good Parts Of This Ad?
There are some good parts of this commercial:
First, it is funny. It will probably be remembered for being funny, and so it will be replayed often. But will it get sales from all those eyeballs?
Second is the nostalgia factor. Acura did OK on picking celebrities in the right age demographic of their target audience. This is probably a pricey car, so it will be out of the reach of most younger buyers. The buyers with the money are probably in the age range of Sienfeld and Leno. That is a positive notch for them.
Finally, Super Bowl commercials are watched – “big-time”. Their web sites are getting millions of hits from people. So I give Acura some credit by picking the right venue to advertise.
Unfortunately, the window of opportunity for using the Super Bowl as a tool for getting out an advertisement is quickly shutting. With everyone is releasing their ads early on the internet and on TV, the hype surrounding a new commercial is losing its sparkle. Eventually, the ad will just be another ad, because it will have to be released earlier and earlier.
If I were the NFL or the TV networks, this type of thing would make me nervous. There are many people that watch the game, just to see the commercials. It helps make the audience larger. So if people don’t have to tune in to see the commercials anymore (which is a common theme being written about on many web sites right now), then they will be losing advertising revenue because they won’t be able to charge as much for the commercials.
I foresee the TV networks writing in some kind of clause that says that says the commercials must be run for the first time during the game, or that they will have to pay a significantly higher rate. That way, it would be an incentive for the advertisers to hold back their commercials and all release them at the same time. It would actually help them all out, as it would force people to continue to watch the game to see the commercials. It is sort of like all the car dealerships putting their businesses next to each other to draw more shoppers. It works. So in the future, maybe about five or six years from now, my prediction is that the TV networks will announce a two-tier advertising rate for Super Bowl commercials. High rates for ads that are released prior to the Super Bowl, and lower rates for brand-new commercials that no one has ever seen before.
Conclusion: This Ad is Marginal at Best
If I were going to create my own advertisement, I probably wouldn’t emulate this one. While it is funny, it doesn’t tie the surprise and enjoyment emotions to owning the car. And it misses on the law-of-association twice: one for using the wrong personality types to make the appeal, and again for tying bitterness and anger to the product being sold.
It takes more than just “number of views,” which people call “exposure” to make a successful advertisement.
NEVER buy or create an advertisement for “Exposure.” It is the fastest way to go broke.
It takes a persuasive appeal to drive those views into your store to make a purchase. Small companies cannot afford to buy exposure. The purpose of advertising is to buy “customers” (not prospects). That is why your next ad shouldn’t be like this one.
Being funny, just to get viewers, is not a recipe for a successful advertisement. Start with the message first, and then add humor where appropriate.
Until next time, “Be Fruitful.”