I grew up in Elkhart, Indiana (actually Middlebury but no one knows of it) – a modest area about 20 minutes East of South Bend / Notre Dame. Most of my family still lives there, and we go back to visit for most of the holidays.
As I was making the trip this past week, I heard the Geico “That’s the Money You Could be Saving” commercial on the radio. If you are not familiar with it, there is a couple at dinner, and the woman keeps giggling then finally revels there is someone/thing staring at her. She sounds almost bashful and flattered by this. When the man inquires, she describes the “thing” as a stack of money with BIG googley eyes. The waiter steps in and then tells the couple, “that’s the money you could be saving with Geico”. After the commercial played, I found myself shaking my head in amazement. So, I reflected on the commercial and asked myself, “What message did you take away from the commercial?” What was first in my mind was a stack of money with BIG googley eyes. And I wondered, “Is that the message Geico wants me to remember? “Is that the impression they wanted to leave on potential customers?” I understand the importance of communicating the cost savings proposition. It’s a great message to have in these times. But does this type of cartoonish character convey that message or create a valuable brand association? It didn’t for me, perhaps I am not their target audience, but what I took away from the radio commercial was:
- They are the cheapest – (which usually means the lowest quality).
- They have an unprofessional image.
I then thought of how much Geico potentially spent to create the commercial and place it with radio stations all across the country and chuckled to myself.
I kept driving and eventually came to a stop light. As I waited for the light to turn green, I noticed a billboard across the street. At first glance, I saw a fisherman with his fishing pole and a fish jumping out of the water. I then took a closer look at the billboard and finally found the name of the company which was “Marion Carpet Service”. I scanned on to find the tagline which read, “Catch a BASS of a deal”. I then laughed outwardly, which the car beside me stared at me strangely. So I wondered, “Is that the message Marion Carpet Services wants me to remember? “Is that the impression they wanted to leave on potential customers?”
As I drove off, I began reflecting about this advertisement. What I took away from the billboard was:
- It was advertising a sporting goods store.
- Oops, wait a minute, its advertising a Carpeting store.
- Marion Carpet Services must really like Bass.
- They are the cheapest price.
Again, it is a great time to communicate that you may be able to save customers money, but did the billboard, or the Geico commercial communicate this message effectively? I don’t believe so. By trying to communicate the cost savings message, in this manor, did these companies dilute their brand or create a disconnect in their true value proposition? Are these mediums to right communication devices to communicate the cost savings message? Was spending money on the radio commercial or billboard, money well spent, or could they have received a greater return placing ads on TV, email or web?
I am not suggesting Radio or Billboard advertisements are ineffective. Although, I would argue that they have a lower retention rate and provide a lower ROI. If you are planning, or plan to engage in an advertising campaign on these mediums or any other for that matter, please make sure your message is appropriate and will leave the desired impression with your audience.