I was listening to The Monday Morning Memo from the Wizard of Ads (check out the podcast on iTunes) last week and something Roy said struck a chord with me. He said that the brain looks for shortcuts. Once it’s seen something more than three or four times, it gets bored and starts “predicting” what happens next, causing conscious observation and experience to fade into the background.
And since we’re exposed to a myriad of marketing messages every hour of every day, doesn’t it make sense to do something out of the ordinary, something that will stand out? You’d think so but the truth is the reality isn’t on point.
Take for example corporate Christmas Cards or Season’s Greetings Cards to be politically correct. Every year, companies send out these pieces of card and use it to punt their latest product/service/widget. You’ve probably received one yourself. I know I’ve received my fair share and seriously, they usually make it out of the envelope for all of 5 seconds before heading straight into the trash. Not only because it’s incredibly tacky to pitch this way but also because I’ve seen it all before.
The same can be said for television like 24, Prison Break and other such programmes. We all know the hero’s not going to die (off-screen contract negotiations notwithstanding) and that the villains will get their comeuppance. We’ve seen it all before. The end result is that our brain automatically edits out all the bits we’re not interested in.
Now imagine your marketing campaign received the same treatment. And your consumers edited out your product’s presence without even noticing it for a second. It happens. Sure you’ve got “eyeballs” on your product, but the brain isn’t taking notes. And yet, brands continue to market themselves the same way through the same channels without fail.
And if your brand is not surprising people at every possible opportunity, they’re not going to be talking about you.
Advertising creatives need to take the risks. We’re the guys on the edge of what’s gonna shake up The Way Things Are. And that means the next time a client asks you to do something mundane, do it and then show them the alternative. They may not buy it, but maybe the next client will. Or if not, perhaps the client after that. You get the idea.