One fine day in the office, our fearless leader Becka mentioned that she wanted to start watching Game of Thrones. This was somewhat surprising because Becka has not been into similar shows with throwback settings and backstabbing intrigue. She’s tried Rome, The Borgias, etc. and just not been down with the crazy drama (and all the brother-sister romance).
So why is she suddenly interested in Game of Thrones? The marketing campaign. Becka likes the ads and the creative guerilla tactics HBO has used to promote the show.
Which got me thinking—what have I bought or consumed as a direct result of the marketing or design? I don’t mean subtly influenced by the marketing, which I’m sure happens all the time. I’m talking about when I pull out the credit card because I love the ad campaign or the packaging.
Things I Buy Because of the Marketing/Design
There are approximately 500 races in the Chicago area between April and October each year, so I have to use some criteria to decide which ones to run. The race’s organization and route are obviously the most critical deciding factors, but those being equal, I feel no guilt picking races with nice logos, appealing eblasts and fun finishers’ prizes. (Fav prize to date: my Soldier Field 10 Mile fleece blanket. Here is an embarrassing photo of me posing on it.)
Beyond trying to get the best race swag, I’ve found that marketing materials can provide valuable hints about a race’s professionalism. Putting on a well-organized race is a huge undertaking. For example, the Shamrock Shuffle attracts 45,000 runners each year—imagine trying to keep all those people organized, hydrated and happy. Compared to that logistical feat, putting together a decent website should be a snap. If your homepage looks like a GeoCities site circa 1999, that makes me a little nervous about your ability to put on a good race—especially when it’s so easy to find a WordPress template and look like a pro. And when I have hundreds of races to choose from, I’m not going to give an event with even the slightest tinge of shady the benefit of the doubt.
The Chicago Beachathlon is a prime example of a race that combines good organization and planning with marketing that makes the event stand out from the pack. They had nice promotional materials, the tone of the event was quirky and upbeat and they promised me a beer. Sold.
Virgin America tickets
Logically, I know there is little to no difference between airline carriers because no matter how many free pretzels you throw at me, the fact remains that I am trapped, motionless, in a stuffy cabin for hours. Also it’s always freezing! And why do people jockey for the privilege of sitting down in their seat first?! I will end this paragraph here because my kvetching could literally be endless.
Despite being aware of all of the above, I decided to specifically buy Virgin America plane tickets for an upcoming trip, even though they were a little more expensive than the cheapest alternative. Why? Their ads make their cabins look really pretty. They are purple. The seats don’t look like they were made out of reanimated sofas from the 1970s.
I know I will want to get off the plane just as badly after 4 hours stuck in the same position, but damn it, the brand looks cool!
I used to think Vitaminwater’s branding was super fun—loved the pithy descriptions of the different flavors on the bottles. So I bought colored sugar water. It wasn’t half bad, as far as sugar water goes.
Since Vitaminwater was bought out by Coke, I don’t think their marketing is as clever so I’m not tempted to buy it anymore. Which is good, because I read an article about how sugar is toxic and now I’m terrified of it. Thank you, not-as-good marketing for saving me from an early grave.
Things I Don’t Buy Because of the Marketing/Design
On the flipside, there are products I will not buy because I hate their marketing so much. My #1 will-not-buy product: Charmin toilet paper. I think their campaign, with the bears talking in graphic detail about what they’re wiping off their butts, is disgusting. Seriously, I know they’re bears, but they are GRAPHIC about their hygiene and digestive problems. Case in point:
The caption says, “Oh Ch@rmin Moment: When your triple shot latte pulls a double.” Thanks for letting me know that espresso makes you poop, bear!
Thus, I won’t buy Charmin. Problem is, I buy lots of my household goods at the drugstore, where there is not a wide variety of toilet paper brands. So oftentimes I am forced to buy generic rather than encourage those grody little bears.
Which is fine—gives me more money to spend on items with seductive marketing campaigns.
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