MK 354 Spring 2010

March 22, 2010

stories – eHarmony

Filed under: blog #6 — Tags: , , , , — marissagkelley @ 12:21 pm

The final element of the Made to Stick SUCCESs model is stories. According to Chip and Dan Heath, “…a credible idea makes people believe. An emotional idea makes people care. And…the right stories make people act” (206). Stories provide a relatable connection that draws attention and empathy, while simultaneously leaving a concrete impression in people’s minds.

One successful example of this theory is the eHarmony advertising campaign. eHarmony offers an Internet dating service through which people can sign up, sign on, and meet their match…literally. eHarmony boasts an array of compatibility tools that give the consumer the best possible chance of meeting someone that they will connect with.

To market this service, the team at eHarmony created a full-fledged campaign based around one single concept: stories. It began with a series of television commercials, in which eHarmony interviewed couples that had met on the site and were now happily in a relationship. The idea caught on quickly, and became eHarmony’s major advertising theme. On YouTube, eHarmony posts video chats that they have conducted with happy eHarmony couples, and on Facebook, couples are invited to share stories of their own.

The campaign demonstrates that the eHarmony marketing strategy was spot on for its target audience. The company realized that that there is a large population of people in the world who are unlucky in love. Finding the perfect partner is a deeply emotional and personal part of someone’s life. eHarmony had to ask themselves, “how can we make the consumer believe that eHarmony is the best answer to their quest for love?”

Its answer involved capitalizing on what the Heath brothers refer to as “the un-passive audience”.  Universally, people are constantly imagining their ideal romantic match. This involves physical traits, personality, temperament, etc. To hear eHarmony couples talking about compatibility, happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction in their partner capitalizes on existing emotions in the consumer. They begin to imagine themselves as the couples on TV: happily in a relationship with all of their worries and bad breakups behind them. Essentially, they act as the un-passive audience, relating their own lives to the eHarmony stories.

For eHarmony, the strategy worked. Their advertising campaign has made it a top competitor in the online dating service industry. By utilizing the stories of its most successful customers, the company convinces potential customers that they too can be happy and in love with just a few clicks of a mouse.

Filed under: blog #6 — Tags: , — morganhowell @ 11:55 am

I know a few people that everyone seems to like. They all share a few qualities, such as being out-going and friendly, things one might expect. But more than anything else, they know how to tell a good story. It’s not only that they can actually tell an entertaining story but they can spot an entertaining story. Now, when it comes to marketing, each quality is important for a story to catch on and have influence over a target audience. A month or two ago I saw an ad in the New York Magazine that didn’t quite make the mark.

Magda Kristoff no doubt had an inspiring story to tell, and almost just as undoubtedly, she told that story to someone at the medical center. But the inspiration seems to have been lost in translation. A cancer patient, Magda had to go through chemotherapy, surgery, unimaginable pain and god knows what else. And the treatment she received helped her survive. How much of that story appears in the copy? None, really. Her story is boiled down to a point where it can just act as a transition to Langone’s state of the art facilities and exemplary patient care—simulation and inspiration are lost. “Our doctors and researchers work together to develop innovative therapies that aren’t the exception, but the rule,” is a great piece of copy, but not too useful in this context. That’s lead worthy, even worthy as being the Commander’s Intent for a whole campaign. But this campaign is story-based. Magda Kristoff is only one of 11 people whose stories are told, yet after reading her ad over and over I know very little about her experience at the Langone Medical Center.

So it’s my guess that whomever was in charge of this campaign is of the same school of thought as the Subway national marketing director who didn’t want to use Jared’s story—that you can’t sell medical care with an inspirational, emotional story. Or maybe Langone had just updated its facilities and they felt that had to be highlighted. Either way, they took a story with a challenge and connection plot and made her into a run of the mill spokeswoman with nothing unique to say.  Langone spotted a good story and watered it down with promotional mumbo jumbo when all they needed to do was convey Magda as a real and relatable person whose cancer Langone cured.

March 1, 2010

emotional – thank you mom.

Filed under: blog #5 — Tags: , , , , — marissagkelley @ 1:20 pm

This past month, the entire world turned its focus toward Vancouver, Canada for the 2010 Winter Olympic games. And what better platform for advertisers to make their impression than the equivalent of a worldwide Superbowl event? In the midst of a diverse television audience that is seeking entertainment by impressive feats of athleticism, how does a company like Proctor and Gamble make people care about mundane products like toothpaste and spray cleaner?

The approach that the company took fits the strategies cited in the chapter on emotion in Made to Stick.  The “Thank You Mom” commercial plays a sequence of powerful clips of Olympian moms cheering on their children as they compete. As inspirational music plays, the copy reads “Is there anything better than being a U.S. Olympian? Actually, there is. Being that Olympian’s mom. Thank you Mom. “

This campaign illustrates the old advertising strategy of selling the benefit of the benefit. Although P&G represents companies that sell everyday household necessities, it recognizes that paper towels and laundry detergent do not inspire an emotional reaction from their viewers. Instead, P&G sells the inspiring image of the loving mother: always there, rooting for her children and providing them with everything they need to succeed.  It’s selling the end result of a mom who has every P&G product that she needs to function during her busy day, so that she can focus on the things that really matter. With this highly effective ad comes the message: Moms, we are here to support you, so that you can focus on supporting your children.

Not only does this campaign illustrate selling the benefit of the benefit, it also appeals to self-interest. Everyone in the world has a mother, and knows the strength of a mother’s love. This commercial tugs at heartstrings by playing images we are all familiar with that express loving care and support. It invokes feelings of pride in its audience in the same way that the Don’t Mess With Texas campaign did.

By making an emotional appeal, Proctor & Gamble fulfilled its objective to position their brand as a trusted, dependable choice for all consumers. Essentially, the commercial used emotion to align the company with world-class Olympian athletes as a fellow champion.

February 22, 2010

credible: all state insurance

Filed under: blog #4 — Tags: , , — marissagkelley @ 12:54 pm

The fourth chapter of the Heath brothers’ book, Made to Stick, focuses on credibility, and breaks down the elements that make an idea credible. To illustrate some of their core concepts, I will use the All State Insurance campaign.

When consumers go shopping for something like insurance, it is not a purchase they take lightly. People value their lives, loved ones and possessions at a very high degree, and they are not going to be willing to take any risks in protecting them. Therefore, as a company that offers this service, it is imperative that it offers credibility. Much like Safexpress had to prove their credibility to the Bollywood film company, All State must prove its credibility in order to gain significant market share.

In one particular All State advertisement entitled “Tail Lights”, a long line of cars full of teenagers drives along an open road. Music plays and spokesman Dennis Haysbert states “Every year, six thousand teenagers go out for a drive…and never come back. Just talking to them can change that”. The camera zooms in on a young girl’s face through the window as she drives away into the darkness. The ad is promoting All States parent-teen driving contract.

There are two Made to Stick elements at play here. First, the Heath brothers state that using vivid, truthful details can boost internal credibility. In this sixty-second TV spot, there are multiple shots of teens in their cars, laughing with friends or playing with a soccer ball. The attention that is paid to these details makes the teens more familiar, so that when Haysbert releases his statement on the number of annual teen driving deaths, the knowledge hits like a bag of sand. The details make the spot memorable, and relate back to the core idea of the campaign, which is to promote All State insurance. This method also makes the idea of teen driving deaths more concrete.

This is also an example of the human scale principle. The Heath brothers believe that appealing to existing schemas in a consumers mind will generate a human context for the statistic. They state, “humanizing the statistic gives the argument a greater wallop” (145). Watching the line of cars full of teenagers drive away, knowing that they represent six thousand deaths, humanizes a bland statistic on paper. This makes the statistic much more powerful, and boosts All State’s credibility.

February 7, 2010

When Vampires Break the Guessing Machine

Filed under: blog #2 — Tags: , , , , , — Zach Cole @ 10:56 pm

Everyone loves vampires, right? How else can one explain the recent sudden burst in bloodsucking books, movies, and television shows? Clearly, American society has been conditioned to fear these undead killers, and therefore is predisposed to an unbridled vampire fascination. Right?

Wrong. The reason shows like True Blood have garnered such cult followings is that they are written around unexpected ideas and events that break the viewers’ guessing machines. By doing so, the viewers’ interest is not only gained, but sustained as well, causing the show to be extra sticky and addictive.

According to Chip and Dan Heath, our brains are programmed to expect a logical progression of ideas. When this logical progression is broken by something unexpected, our brains are triggered to pay attention. In other words, surprise is triggered when our schemas fail (Heath 67). True Blood first gained attention by breaking the traditional vampire schema. Rather than a world where vampires terrorize unsuspecting humans, True Blood created a world where vampires and humans co-exist peacefully (for the most part).

That the vampires were notably different than any other vampire in the mainstream media was a nice, unexpected surprise. However, just getting attention is not enough. After the initial surprise there must be interest in order to sustain attention. Mysteries are a fantastic way to move the audience from general surprise to undivided attention, because mysteries require closure (81). According to George Loewenstein, curiosity happens when we sense a gap in our knowledge. These gaps cause pain, and we require answers to fill the gaps and appease the pain (84).

In order to ensure that viewers keep coming back for more True Blood week after week, every episode leaves a main character in some sort of unexpected peril or dramatic circumstance. Otherwise known as cliffhangers, the suspenseful final moments of every episode leave the viewer with seven days to ponder the possible outcome. That’s seven days without closure, and the pain caused by the gap in knowledge grows each day.

So can True Blood attribute its overwhelming success to all those same vampire fanatics who were waiting in line for tickets to see Twilight days in advance? Maybe. But more likely, True Blood succeeds because its writers understand what it takes to get, and keep, a captive audience.

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