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Posted: April 13, 2010

Top 5 marketing and PR blunders: No. 4

Selling the product, not the emotion

Esty Atlas

(Editor's note: This is the 4th column of a five-part series.)

As Bob Dylan bellowed in 1964, "The Times they are a-Changin." Truth is, the times are always changing and we're seeing it again, particularly in the marketing and public relations of companies today.

So take notice. We did. Discover what the big kids are doing. After all, they've got the bucks to spend on consumer research. Especially since more and more consumers are wearing their ‘cause or heartstrings' on their sleeves. Socially minded people are moving forward and they're making an economic impact. That's why companies are shifting their advertising model from the product to the emotion.

Three examples:

1) One of the most impressive (and expensive) collateral pieces I've seen in quite a long time comes from BMW. Using the same tagline for 31 years, "The Ultimate Driving Machine," they are now also selling JOY. That's the word in three little letters. It's defined in ways that speak to both genders, various ages, and inspiring lifestyles. "Joy Breaks the Mold" gives you a hot sports car photo. "Joy is Maternal" gives you an adorable baby sucking his thumb in a car seat. "Joy is Youthful" gives you a retired fellow who is smiling and standing next to his red hot BMW convertible.

Get the picture? The support copy reads: "We do not make cars. We are creators of emotion. We are the keepers of thrill. We are the guardians of one three-letter word." The highly produced fold-out is a very large (12-1/2" x 12") 2-sided, 4-color printing that was inserted into The Wall Street Journal consisting of 12 panel messages per side for a total of 24 panels! I wish I had that budget for some of my clients. But, lest we should get lost in the lesson to be learned here. BMW actually refutes they are car makers by saying they are emotion-sellers! They do it because it works to sell the cars they say they don't make. Are they successful? YOU BET!

2) Chevron is taking out full-page color newspaper ads and producing TV spots to not sell gas. They are today selling "Human Energy." The newspaper ad shows a beautiful young girl with a wistful expression and big eyes. Their copy tells you they "invest in the people, technology, and projects which supply the energy the world needs today - and the kinds of energy we'll need tomorrow." They want to be known as being creators of: Jobs. Ideas. Innovations. That's code for getting consumers who share their ideology. Anyone can sell gas, but loyalty is built on common values.

3) The good folks at G.E. They used to "bring good things to life." Now, they are "imagination at work." With all this imagination and innovation, it's a wonder our country is still so embattled for jobs and debt-burdened, isn't it? Anyhow, their full page ad shows Ronald Reagan with a big smile, looking over his shoulder while sitting in a director's chair. Their ad says, "Before he changed the world, or led a nation, or governed a state...He inspired a company." Apparently, Ronnie served as host of GE Theater - back in the day. And now, GE is proud to let you know they are the "presenting sponsor of the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration." Not a word about light bulbs or any other core product.

So, what are you advertising to your customers...the product or the passion? Does YOUR marketing, advertising, and public relations message resonate with consumers?
Your Strategy should be: First, examine what you've been saying and how you've been saying it. Then, begin a new dialogue. Market to your consumers in ways that actually build a sustainable future.

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Esty Atlas is a four-time Emmy award-winning writer, specializing in leadership communications, media and public relations. 303-919-2425; email: estycreative@yahoo.com or www.estycreative.com

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Readers Respond

What a great message Esty has captured here. It's so true that emotion sells and yet for so long in the business world emotions and feelings were not spoken of so directly or openly. This is indeed where the true power lays within people and companies (a group of people). Thanks for sharing! By terri norvell on 2010 04 13

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