Monday, March 10, 2008

BAD ADS: Creativity is Critical but don’t forsake the Message

I passed this billboard on my way home from work the other day and had to stop to take a picture with my phone. Fortunately for the advertiser, the name and contact info is a little blurry but you can see the enormous picture of the realtor and the main headline: “Got Realtor?”

Sure, the obvious problem is the realtor’s reference to an 18 year old milk campaign that has been “spoofed” thousands of times over the years. Frankly, it isn’t cute anymore.

More importantly though is that in her efforts to be “creative,” she has forsaken the message.

In other words, what does “Got Realtor?” have to do with the value proposition she is providing?

  • Why should I buy/sell my house with her?
  • What should I expect from her?
  • How is she different than the other 6,000+ realtors in Columbus, Ohio?
  • Why should I call her or remember her phone number?

The answer according to this billboard: because she is a realtor.

In other words, she is paying ~$1,500 per month for what is equivalent to a yellow pages directory listing. She is simply stating, “I am a realtor. Call me.”

What most likely happened was that she came up with the “Got Realtor?” idea early on in the ideation process. She thought it was creative and just stuck with it never stopping to think about what message it really sent... or didn’t send.

The original “Got Milk?” campaign was effective because it didn’t have to differentiate “milk” from the other 6,000+ “milks” in Columbus, Ohio. The campaign was promoting a product category as a whole and the ultimate goal was to encourage people to buy milk regardless of what brand or what store they purchase it from.

If her goal was to encourage people to get a realtor regardless of who they choose, then her ad is effective. Otherwise, she should have done something different. If I were advising her, I would ask her to think about the following:
  • What is the most unique thing about you as a realtor?
    • If there isn’t anything unique, find something!
  • Once you have the “unique” thing, make sure it is perceived as valuable by your target market.
  • If it is, build a creative headline/message around that one thing and communicate it through everything you do.

In other words, never start with the creative. Start with the "value proposition" you want to get across and wrap the creative around it. Any other approach and you’ll end up with a “Got Realtor?” billboard.

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