Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Psychology of Advertising

Saturday morning, it just stopped raining as I waited it out so I could walk down the street to the gym. Problem now is that I've been sitting still for two hours feel like a sloth. So I needed to start moving around and getting pumped up.

I figured some music might help me, so I put on something on YouTube while I stretched out and jumped around. As I was waiting for the song to load, a STUPID advertisement for some GMC truck came on and wasted 15 seconds of my time. It wasn't long but it felt like an eternity. It wasn't until the end of the advertisement that I realized something...

Yesterday I read an article about how Cadillac is having problems shaking the stereotypes American consumers have about their brand. First it was a car for people between the ages of 80 and deceased, then it became the iconic ride of pimps all over the world. They further whored out their brand when they offered the Escalade to cater to this demographic. They recently just fired their advertising firm because they weren't able to change the public's perception of the brand with the new "sexy" commercials.

The problem is as simple as the advertisement I just saw. It seems that GM is anchoring negative feelings to their brand. I already think that GM cars are crap quality (from family members transmissions being fried on multiple occasions) and their advertising scheme is just putting them into a deeper sinkhole. I heard their quality is getting better, but I'm the general public and we're always justified for the feeling the way I feel.

The whole point of advertising is to anchor positive feelings to a product or service. This is why Coca-Cola is sponsoring the World Cup in 2010 because they want to anchor the feelings of excitement and celebration to their brand. Its also why advertisers pay millions of dollars to advertise during the Superbowl, because the emotional ROI is priceless.

So what did GMC accomplish by advertising to me on YouTube? They've managed to frustrate and piss me off and successfully anchor those feelings to an already tarnished brand. Awesome...

My advice to GM and the other American auto companies is this. If you want to change the public perception of your brand, advertise to us when we need a break from something positively intense. Advertise to us at weddings, parades, or maybe even AFTER the YouTube song has finished playing. At least then you'll be taking the positive feelings I just got from listening to Michael Jackson and some how associating it to what you're about to show me, albeit on a subliminal level.

Now its back to Michael Jackson (Ghosts is HAHT!), and off to the gym...