Tag Archives: Wendy’s

Having fun can be good for business – seriously

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Sometimes, as marketers, we take ourselves WAY too seriously.  Having a little fun can be a great way to break from the pack and enhance your brand identity.

wheres the beef

Overly serious messaging with the tonal equivalent of sucking a lemon can get a message across but can also miss a great opportunity to connect with the audience and to break through in a crowded environment.

I’m not talking about Bud Light ha-ha slapstick funny – there’s lots of that out there (and a lot of it is not particularly funny).

I’m talking about funny that connects to someone as a person.  There’s a difference.

  • When done right, viewers are thinking “they get me! – they’re talking to me”

Exhibit A – Sprinkler Supply Store

I ordered replacement gaskets online from a sprinkler supply company.  They arrived and all worked out.  End of transaction.

  • Then I got their ‘welcome’ email with ‘Huge Announcement’ in the subject line, signaling that I was now in their database
  • This should have been an invitation to unsubscribe, but the way it was done, I now look forward to future emails! I like them!  How did that happen?
  • Here’s the copy:

    “Listen up folks! David is joining us from…

    but no one could hear the rest of the announcement over the clamorous applause. Bells were rung. Balloons were dropped. “It’s Raining Men” blared from every speaker.
    Simply put, adding you to our Sprinkler Supply Store family was cause for immediate celebration, everyone is thrilled you’re now a customer. Thank you!”

  • It made me laugh – – and it worked (actual email below)

Screen Shot 2018-06-30 at 3.25.12 PM

Exhibit B – UberConference – World’s Best Hold Music!

If you’re waiting for other people to join your UberConference call, you will hear music about…being on hold.  First time I heard it, I laughed out loud.

Here’s a company that essentially force-feeds hold music saying “hey, we rely on hold music and even WE think it sucks!”  In other words, they get it.

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 10.26.35 AMI’m On Hold” was written and performed by Alex Cornell, an UberConference exec.  Sample lyrics: “Well, I’ve been sitting here all day/I’ve been sitting in this waiting room/And I’ve been waiting on my friends/Yes, waiting on this conference call – all alone/And I’m on hold, well yes, I’m on hold/I hope it’s not all day”.

Check out the YouTube video below, and check out the comments.  That’s a great connection.

 

Exhibit C – Sheetz (a 600-unit, 65-year old mid-Atlantic convenience/gas chain)

Convenience stores connected to gas stations are many, varied, and mostly interchangeable.  Not this one.

  • Sheetz prides itself on its Made To Order food and has long taken a light touch with the family name, selling “Shwingz” (wings), “Shmuffinz” (breakfast sandwich), and “Shweetz” (baked goods). Their ads have historically been funny.
  • But their recent “I Want it All” (Queen cover) regional ad is an over the top statement that they’re different – – complete with air guitar – – and that they get where you’re coming from (we all know it’s just a convenience store – – lighten up – – ours is pretty good)
  • It made me laugh – – and it worked.  Official video inexplicably not available – – bootleg version here.

 

 

Exhibit D – Buick Enclave

I am not a Buick guy, but I did a double-take with a current spot.

  • In the base spot, a suburban dog-walking woman corrects the Buick owner by identifying her dog as a ‘Bernie-doodle’, a nice send-up of dogs as status symbols

Base version
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UA-I-cN9mh8

‘Dog Walker’ version

  • In this pool out, they up the ante on the dog owner status. Fido is now a “Golden-English-Labra-Irish-Bernedoodle Retriever–with the temperament of a Pug

screen-shot-2018-07-02-at-7-52-49-am.pngScreen Shot 2018-07-02 at 7.53.51 AMScreen Shot 2018-07-02 at 7.54.04 AM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYoq2epAXG8

  • It’s funny! I know lots of dog snobs – – hey, I’m one myself!  And it worked to give Buick a more relatable identity (the only Buick owner I know is Mom).  Without the gag I would have not paid attention.

Exhibit E – Southwest Airlines safety announcements

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 7.58.10 AMScreen Shot 2018-07-02 at 7.58.53 AM

  • Everyone is familiar with these (classic example in the video).
  • We all know that pre-flight announcements are routine and that no one listens anymore. Southwest has always done a great job of using humor to relate to its customers on an equal level, rather than a formal ‘we’re in charge’ approach, and in addition to being fun, it breaks down the barriers that might otherwise exist in a sometimes stressful activity.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07LFBydGjaM

Great marketing messaging creates a connection with the viewer – – to demonstrate that the advertiser understands who their target consumers are, and what they feel and need – – and that this empathy presumably translates to a belief that they can better meet your needs.

Humor, in addition to helping break through the clutter, is a very good way to create that direct connection, and maybe help bring that prospect a little closer to being a customer.

Of course, there are some situations where humor is just not appropriate – – serious life issues, mean-spirited, sexist or condescending humor, things that appeal to only a miniscule narcissistic sub-segment of society (copywriters), and stuff that’s just not funny.

Funny-and-Clever-Spicy-Food-Ads-11

So remember that, like hot sauce, while it can spice things up, not everyone likes humor the way you do, it doesn’t go with everything, and if used too aggressively, it can ruin what you were trying to improve.

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Why does my phone company want to be my girlfriend?

For that matter, why do an insurance company, car company, and fast feeder also want to be my girlfriend?  (and where were they when I was an undergrad?)

Well, actually, they want to be your girlfriend too.  And I’m talking about long-term girlfriend, not quick little fling girlfriend* (example of that below).

Why?  Quite simply, they want you to like them.  And likeability is very good for a brand.   All else being equal, people would rather do business with a company they like. 

If you’ll work with me on the analogy, these are companies in very competitive, undifferentiated, and more functional than fun businesses.  We’re talking AT&T, Progressive, Toyota and Wendy’s.  They know there are other comparable offerings out there, so they do not want to play hard to get.  They want to be the brand you’re comfortable with and want your parents to meet (if you’re a guy).  If you’re a woman, they’re someone who’d be fun to hang around with.

Here’s a directory of the most prominent of the current ‘girlfriend’ spokespersons.

Girlfriends

Why do these spokespersons work so well?  They’re funny, smart and pretty.  Not beautiful, pretty – – girl next door pretty.  There’s a difference.  Progressive’s Flo, of course, started this recent wave, but all have serious comedy/performing chops.  They are naturally funny, and they’re in on the joke.  All are dressed conservatively, as if to maximize appeal without overt sex appeal.

In short, you like them for all the right reasons.  And if the advertising is successful, some of this likeability/appeal rubs off on the brand and helps you like the company just a little bit more than the competition.

Here are sample clips from each of these spokespersons.  They would seem to appeal to all major genders equally.

Toyota’s Jan (her expression at around :15 is pure comedic genius):

Progressive’s Flo:

AT&T’s Lily Adams:

Wendy’s Red:

These are fun spots, they build the product into the story, they catch your attention, and refreshing the campaign minimizes wearout.  And — they respect the viewer – wow!

So what’s wrong with beautiful?  Well, none of these women is Gisele Bündchen.  (actually if you look closely, Gisele Bündchen isn’t even Gisele Bündchen.  But that’s another story).

The reason:  beautiful just wouldn’t work.  Like it or not, it seems that model-beautiful and funny are virtually never celebrated in the same person (quick – – name a supermodel who cracks you up).   Using someone known primarily for their looks would be distracting, confuse the messaging, and rather than be likable, would make the spokesperson seem unattainable for guys and threatening for women.

*For an example of the exact opposite of the ‘girlfriend’ approach, check out the most recent Carl’s Jr. ad.  Suffice it to say, if you want the Texas BBQ Thickburger, you want it once, so you can tell your friends you had it.  But you would probably not respect yourself in the morning (warning, barely safe for work):   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvKuhpZjA4M

The Carl’s Jr spot, like most of their work, has it all:  contrived, cynical, pandering, insulting, demeaning.

Likability is good.   I wish more brands tried it.