When Audacious Advertising Works Against You

An article in Inc. Magazine titled “Over the Edge” made the point that lots of businesses today, hoping to create a name for themselves or break into new markets, are relying on increasingly dramatic advertising campaigns. One example: a promotion for a hair-replacement product developed by Maverick Marketing that showed a baboon’s ass in the middle of a slide presentation.

Scott Place, the president of Maverick, told Inc. that many of his smaller clients want this kind of audacious approach. And it certainly can get you noticed. But Inc. noted that by tossing in such a juvenile joke, the company risked harming its credibility. “In their quest to stand out in an increasingly ad-cluttered world,” Inc. went on to say, “many marketers forget that not all attention is created equal.

What’s more, when everyone else is striving to be out of the box, a quiet, attitude-free approach might have more edge than you think.” Don’t bet your money on it. I don’t like the baboon’s butt, but not because it is too bold or provocative. It fails because it doesn’t respect the customer (in this case, balding men). It actually belittles them.

If you are a small company trying to break into a new market on a limited budget, you’re much better off going with a strong — almost screaming — beneficial message. Shout value. Shout quality. Shout urgency. Leave the attitude-free, folksy stuff to the businesses that have so much money already they don’t mind wasting it on “inoffensive” advertising.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]