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Big Bang Marketing
If you expect to get noticed in this
crowded word, you need to come in with a bang.
By: John Shepler
AFLAC!!! Do you say AFLAC? Or, like a third of
us, can you only quack it?
For the AFLAC duck you'll thank Linda Kaplan Thaler
and Robin Koval of the Kaplan Thaler Group. They run what is billed as the
fastest growing advertising agency in the United States. Prior to
Kaplan Thaler, AFLAC was a relatively unknown Fortune 500 insurance
company that dumped $100 million into advertising to no avail. After
Kaplan Thaler, AFLAC has a name recognition of over 90%. All thanks to the
ongoing antics of a feisty duck. The creative breakthrough that made this
possible? Simply noticing that when pronounced as a word, AFLAC
sounds a lot like quack.
Oh, yes, there is one other small thing. That's
having the nerve to talk a company that sells cancer insurance into
running what amounts to a comedy routine. Were AFLAC's customers
horrified by that? Actually, business went up over 50% as a result of
those commercials. They're clucking all the way to the bank while
we're quacking "AFLAC, AFF-LACCCCC."
It Takes Nerve
Nerve and lots of it are what propelled Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin
Koval to build their advertising business from meeting in an apartment
living room to explosive success....literally. That's the message of
their book, "Bang!." It's subtitled "Getting Your Message Heard in a
Noisy World." And that's exactly their point. If you want to stand
above the crowd and get noticed, you'll have to come up with something
outrageous. Forget tradition. Forget the tried and true. You can
even forget what some term professionalism, when professionalism is a
euphemism for staid and riskless. You need to be outrageously creative and
get your wild ideas into the world.
Yes, Oh Yes, Yes, Yes
Another example? Sure. In 1994, Clairol was about to pull Herbal Essences
Shampoo from the store shelves because it was selling so poorly. They
revamped the product with a new fragrance and snappier packaging. Now they
needed an ad campaign to match or it was curtains for that brand. What did Linda and Robin do? They interviewed women around the
office on what they thought of shampooing. Surprisingly, they found out that it was
perceived as something of a enjoyable and even sensual experience.
Brainstorming that notion, their group got to joking about the coffee shop
scene from the movie "When Harry Met Sally." The bolt of creative
lightning hit. You've see the ads that saved Herbal Essences or at least
heard the moaning "yes, yes, yes" of the women shampooing their hair. The brand has now been launched in over 62 countries around the world.
And The Message Is...
The big message of Bang! is that you need to put some bang into
your own marketing efforts. Bang is better that lots of budget and huge
campaigns. What's more important is novelty, surprise, memorability and
being able to forever associate good feelings about your product or
service to the message you are spreading. Listen to Linda and Robin and
you'll never embrace blandness again.