Stay on Target – Who We Make Ads For

Last week I was sitting at a boarding gate, trying to get some last-minute work stuff done before I took off on vacation. I was having a hard time finding a topic for an overdue blog assignment when something one of my clients said popped into my head. It was during a call years ago to review an end tag treatment for a commercial. It was for a popular buffet chain, and he wanted to show the variety of items customers could find at the buffet to wrap up the commercial.

My partner and I resisted the request. Our reasoning was it would make the end tag too busy and would detract from the branding. His response was, “It takes all types to fill the highways.” It was the first time I had heard that phrase and I later learned it was his spin on a famous quote: “It takes all kinds to make the world go around.”

It was a very appropriate statement. He wanted to reinforce the fact that they had something for everyone. I felt this was kind of obvious because it was a buffet and it wasn’t worth cluttering the end tag. I decided to make it a challenge and test my creativity by finding a visually appealing way to make it work. We ended up using the multi-item tag version not because it is what he wanted but because it turned out to work best to communicate the benefit of going to Buffet “X.” The footage in the multi-item tag showed a higher quality of items the target could expect to find at Buffet “X’ versus other buffets. Why? Even though people know what a buffet is, they eat with their eyes and, in this case, showing was better than assuming.

With this in mind, I sat at the gate and looked around at all the different types of people around me and thought of what my client said. This time, I thought about it not just in context of the end tag, but how it applies to what I do for a living at an advertising agency. Advertising creatives are all fans of cool, clever, funny ads we see in industry mags, blogs and award shows. Because of this, we have to remind ourselves who our targets are because it is easy to get caught up trying to create work we think is cool, clever, and funny. In the end, it’s not necessarily your peers, your spouse, your friends, your relatives or your client who are your client’s customers. You make ads for your target and often your target is very, very different from you. It is our job to take what we know about the target and to create messages that resonate with who they are and how they see themselves. It is our job to find something about the product or service that is meaningful to the target. It is our job to influence the target’s opinion about a brand and/or to motivate them to take action. If what you have to say is truly insightful and unique, you will get results, awards and accolades—and hopefully make a sale for your client. To do our job successfully, we must always keep our target in mind.

Photo of airport gate by Flickr's Nicola since 1972

After all of this thinking, my thoughts drifted back to the people at the gate. I smiled to myself; none of them had any idea how much time I spend thinking about them and what they think.

Photo Credit: Flickr’s Nicola since 1972