Originally posted January 8th, 2012
I’m going to kick this off by talking about advertisements and the special place they have in my heart. Even before I went into marketing I have always loved watching ads. When TiVo and PVRs got big a few years ago and people raved about how you could fast forward through ads, my reaction was always “What if you miss the good ones?”
The fact is, even though it is an advertisement designed to get you to buy something, change your opinion of a brand, or some other call to action, the commercial was created by someone with the enjoyment of the target market in mind. That’s not to say that all ads are good or that all ads are being properly targeted, but a wide range of them are. Many people will tell me that they hate all ads and that all of them are annyoing. To that I usually shrug my shoulders, bring up the coca cola polar bear ads and they usually concede that those are some damn cute bears.
So like it or not, advertisements are an important part of our culture and because of that I want to take a few moments and talk about some of the ads I enjoy the most and why. We’ll be starting with an ad currently running: The Manatee by TBWAToronto
This ad has got a bit of flak on the interwebs for depicting its customer’s as stupid, but I certainly never interpreted it that way. The way I see it is elaborated a little bit at the end, so for now I’ll just say I disagree with the criticism. The advertisement begins a couple (presumably married judging by the man’s ring) buying groceries at a non-descript supermarket. The cashier asks how they want to pay for it and the couple daydreams about the possibilities.
They have a fantasy of lounging on the back of a boat drinking the most stereotypical island vacation drinks imaginable. All of the sudden they are surprised by a “dolphin”. The dolphin of course is actually a manatee that our vacationers have confused for the far cuter aquatic mammal. I’ll admit that while I was pretty sure it was a manatee, I wasn’t positive. Having never really seen one the best I had to go off of was this photo
They discuss how smart it looks (knowing that Dolphin’s are smart) and even compare it to a wizard which I found more hilarious. The acting on the part of these two is actually quite impressive for a commercial as I find they sound very genuine. I find it believable that these two actually think its a dolphin, but at the same time they don’t come across as stupid or silly but actually kind of likable. At this point, an actual Dolphin emerges, and it really does look like a younger version of the manatee. The couple marvels over what they assume is a baby dolphin, and observe they would not want to be an old dolphin when they’re… old. The pan over from the happy laughing dolphin, to the very sad looking manatee is hilarious along with the old crabby grunt from our aquatic sea-cow.
Next we’re back on dry land when the day-dream ends and Morgan Freeman’s voice comes as the cherry on the top of this advertising sundae. He tells us that with Visa rewards, our everyday purchases can add up to big dreams. With this statement, the commercial has a little more context. What the ad (and Mr. Freeman) is telling us, is that these are ordinary people. They have no business being on a boat seeing dolphins, they’re just the average Joe and Jane at the supermarket. But with Visa Rewards they can afford to take a lavish trip where they see Manatees and Dolphins.
The call to action definitely is clear: we should use a Visa rewards card.
The benefit is clear: We will get rewards such as vacations to tropical paradises.
The target market is clear: The average working class person, younger (no family yet)
And it makes us laugh. Overall I really enjoy this commercial and when I’ve PVRed a show, you can bet I stop the fast forward for this.