Monday, December 5, 2011

You ought to be in pictures.

         A couple of nights ago, before the movie about Marilyn Monroe, the theater showed a few commercials. The moans were audible.

         One of the spots was a beautiful, poetic ode to travel. Perfect music, marvelous photography, and language that melted the heart. Then a bag with "LV" initials came into focus, followed by "Louis Vuitton" titles. The audience gasped --- then booed.

          The commercial was quite beautiful, and has won awards, but was being shown to the wrong audience at the wrong time.

           It's one thing to charge ten bucks or more for a film, six dollars for a small popcorn,  and another to ask people to pay even more by sitting through a commercial. In that context, the LV commercial was regarded as flat-out manipulation.

           On television, we consumers have made a trade. We get free programming if we put up with commercials. In social media, smart advertisers try to reward viewers with information and help in exchange for their time.

           At the movies, Stella Artois stays in sync with why people are there: entertainment. The movie previews are, of course, commercials as well, and the good ones are enjoyable to watch and provide information to encourage people to see the films.

          A commercial that tries to woo you by pretending to be a travelogue is anti-advertising. It sets the whole industry back. We have to learn to think harder.

           A few years ago, a bright marketing director came over to my office to announce that she found a great way to reach people in their 20s. She placed her whole budget on ads on the sides of the soft drink cups at movie theaters. She was more than a little upset when I pointed out that people wrap their hands around those cups and carry them into dark auditoriums, where they eventually discard them.

           If we're going to do ads for movie theater audiences --- or any audience --- we have to think of them and not us. Why do they go to movies? What mood are they in? What do they want to have happen? How can you help them? How can you reward them?

           Marketers should figure that out way before you're asked to turn off your cellphone.

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