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We Aren't Doing This Kind of Marketing Anymore. Why?

Man with megaphone

"The best marketing doesn't feel like marketing." Tom Fishburne

M & M’s--They melt in your mouth.

John Deere Tractors—We may doze but we never close.

Kentucky Fried Chicken—Finger lickin’good!


These are classic ads that have stood the test of time. In fact, I’ll wager they never go out of style. But why is that?

They all have one common denominator. They are visual. We can “see” what the business is talking about.


What if Kentucky Fried Chicken had said, “We do chicken right!” That tagline would have lasted about as long as the Budweiser Whassup commercial because it’s too generic.

What does it mean to do chicken right? We don’t know. So the brain says, “I’ll take a hard pass on remembering anything about KFC.”




Capturing people’s attention means capturing their imagination. And with 60%-65% of the population processing the written word visually, using words that create a picture that the public can relate to is a no-brainer.

But there's more.

One More Reason to Keep Your Marketing Message Visual


Using words to create a visual has helps consumers to memorize your offers, to see and feel them. Take the Rolls Royce company. Before hiring the late, great David Oglivy (my hero!) in 1959, their tagline for this ultra luxury car was, “The best car in the world!”


Not only is it generic and boring, you could substitute Chevrolet, BMW, or any other brand, and they could boast the same thing. After all, what is "best"? But Oglivy took the visual route. Here’s what he wrote.

“At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise in the new Rolls Royce comes from the electric clock.”


Wow. In one sentence, Oglivy places you behind the wheel of the world’s most acknowledged luxury automobile, enjoying all the benefits of premiere engineering. You can almost feel the affluence, the quality. And that was the point.


The ad was so successful, other car manufacturers were scrambling to do damage control. In 1964--five years later--Ford ran tests that proved their new Ford was 2.8 decibels quieter. But did it really matter?

Screenshot of a 1964 Ford ad

(See the full ad here. You'll need to scroll down the page)


Sadly, I don’t think we have that kind of attention to marketing these days. It’s more about being clever for the sake of being clever.


I can’t stand this kind of marketing. While it may bring in a few bucks in the short term, it won’t stand the test of time. It won’t keep working for the business for years.


To make my point, the Whassup commercial was considered a success because it lasted 3 years!


Three. Years.


And it was goofy.


Really good ads can last generations. Just ask the M & M company.


It worries me that we have become so lax with messaging. As a website designer once told me, “Nobody wants to talk about copy.”


The very thing that will make you money, and nobody wants to talk about it. Writing good copy takes time. Oglivy wrote and re-wrote that line dozens of times until he got what he wanted.


I’m concerned that marketers are more concerned about influencers and other bright, shiny objects and less concerned about digging in. We don't sweat to find what works. Instead, we want something quick and flashy.


But good marketing isn't about being clever. It's about being clear. It takes the time to understand the audience and what’s important to them. We need to take the time to serve our audience with words that make them want to do business with us because we solve a problem.


Not just for a couple of years, but for many years to come. Build that connection and keep it going.


It’s your business and your money. Don’t you deserve that kind of care?



 Do you know a small business person or a creative who struggles to level up their business? I can help and would love to connect with them, starting with a complimentary 30-minute session. Pay it forward and introduce us!



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