In high school, I had to read the tragedy of Othello. The part I remember the most was when the villain Iago tells Othello that his wife may be cheating on him. At first, Othello ignores Iago, but the idea grows in his head, and eventually he became paranoid. Iago’s tactic was deemed as “planting the seeds of doubt”, and he was very successful at it.
If you think about it, Iago would have been good in strategic communication, or in other words, advertising. He was able to convince Othello to buy his story. In strategic communication, the person’s job is to get the firm’s message across and/or convince people to buy their product. It seems as if firms will almost do anything to “spread the word”. They will call your house, they will stick ads in newspapers and magazines, they will put up billboards, they will sponsor events, they will put ads on buses, they will clog your digital and physical mail boxes, and of course, they will pay for ad space on television. Wait, there’s more. Now they are talking about using the iPhone and iPad App that reads QR codes. All you would do is scan the QR code, and next thing you know, a video starts playing on your iPhone or iPad. Freaky.
Like I said, firms will almost do anything to achieve their goal. One popular method of gaining attention is celebrity endorsements. Proactiv is firm that uses that strategy. They have used Jessica Simpson, Katy Perry, and now Proactiv has come down with “Bieber Fever”. Every commercial is the same where the celebrities talk about their acne problems, and now Proactiv has made them more confident. In addition, they show before and after pictures to ensure the audience that the product works.
Another method used in advertising is creating a character. Tony the Tiger, Kool Aid Man, the Geico Gecko, The Most Interesting Man in the World, and the list goes on and on. However, this method is not necessarily the best. Look at the Burger King. He was kind of creepy, and that’s not the image Burger King was looking for. Then, there’s Six Flags. In their commercials, they used to have an old man with huge glasses do a funny dance in their commercials. At first, it was funny, but then people could no longer stand him. Characters are a Jekyll and Hyde relationship. They will either work to your advantage or they will backfire.
The most important thing about advertising is to consider ethics. Yes, it seems like many advertisements do not look that way, but they will call you out on it. Group On is one example of a firm learning that lesson with their Super Bowl ad a couple years ago. Just don’t create controversy.