Mixed messages

The purpose of any advertising is fairly straightforward – to get you to do something. More often than not they want you to buy something, but ads can also try to convince you to think or feel a certain way about something. However, lately I’ve been seeing more and more ads that just slightly miss the mark when it comes to persuasion.

I should probably preface this post by pointing out that I’m not your average ad watcher. I’m basically the East German judge of advertising, and I’ve been known to heckle the television during commercial breaks. That being said, I think these ads leave you with some subtle mixed messages that are likely more damaging to the campaigns than a crappy ad would be.

Aflac

For the purpose of this critique, we’ll ignore the fact that I think the Aflac duck would be of better use roasted and served with plum sauce. If you accept the premise that this duck is a useful marketing tool, then the commercial starts out on point. The two golfing buddies are having a relatable conversation about how quickly Aflac managed to get his claim paid, and that’s a useful piece of info for the audience.

But then Aflac makes a fatal mistake – they try to be funny. Right after the Aflac customer brags about the speed of his claim payment, the duck (who is not only a terrible golfer but a grade-A jerk) drops the ball and kicks it into the hole. They follow it up with this exchange:

Golf dude #1 – “Is that legal?”

Golf dude #2 – “Big fat no.”

The commercial then ends, leaving me with the impression that Aflac is involved in some questionably legal practices that result in you getting cash in a hurry. If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t worry about possible jail time for insurance fraud, then Aflac is the company for you!

Botox

Apparently, there aren’t enough vain humans out there for Botox to peddle their beauty toxin to, so they’ve figured out a way to market it as a treatment for migraines. I’m not even going to get into the reading of the side effects (which include headaches) because those have never been persuasive for any drug. For me, it’s just one poorly chosen line that turns this from gross botulism shot to dystopian torture mechanism.

But what if the odds could be in your favor?

Like it or not, that phrase is now forever etched in the minds of the general population as a preface to a murder competition. Botox has enough to worry about in the court of public opinion without adding child sacrifice to the mix.

odds

Buick

I feel for you, Buick, I really do. You’re the official car of everyone’s grandparents. For a long time I was under the impression that your only available finish colors were gold and slightly more shimmering gold. Your cars basically come standard with a Werther’s Original dispenser in the center console. You are not a sexy car.

'83_Buick_Century_Sedan

So, you went back to the drawing board and came away with some new designs that are not hideous. They are by no means exciting, but it doesn’t seem like an AARP membership card would be required for purchase. The problem is, you’re so desperate for people to like you that you’re putting yourself down in the hope they’ll build you up. My takeaway from this commercial is not that Buicks are young and fun, but that people generally think Buicks are pieces of crap and are surprised to find out that they’re just regular cars.

This ad is a particular failure because I’m looking to buy a car right now, so for a brief period of time I’m actually their target market. Not that I’d consider a Buick anyway, since GM seems to be issuing a new recall on the daily. But I guess, “Our newest models have yet to fail to deploy an airbag!” was a little too self-deprecating, even for Buick.

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