Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Is Safe Smart Business?

This week Gap created a small buzz with the in store advertisement above. The ad is risky and has offended some. However the Ad is being noticed... The Huffington Post ran
an article asking users if the Ad was offensive or cleaver. Only 20% of respondents indicated that the Ad was offensive.

Is this a bad thing?

I am not calling for full scale offensive/classless advertising, but I dont think safe is smart. The Golden age of advertising when bland safe messages were able to generate sales is probably dead and gone forever. The average american consumer see far too many ads in one day. In a small
Starbucks in Signal Hill CA, I counted 85 different brand messages IN the store. Everything from Apple laptops to Tazo tea, to Nike Logos is in this one little place.

With this much visual saturation how on earth do you make a message stick out? I think one way is to do something unexpected. Only unexpected has a tendency to offend 20%... but isn't that old news the classic flipped 80/20 rule?

-->In case you dont know the 80/20 rule says 80% of revenue comes from 20% of your client base. The flipped 80/20 rule says that 20% of consumers will hate your brand no matter what you do. These numbers are always pretty consistant. For some reason (probably fear) many brands give power to the 20% that hate them, and try to win them over. Lets look a little closer...

There are 20% of consumers who will never by a Foreign car.
Should foreign manufactures produce cars in the US?
(Some brands are trying but they still aren't winning that 20% over)

There are 20% of consumers that will never by a domestic car.
Should domestic automakers produce cars overseas?

Why dont companies ignore the 20% that hate them? Why don't more brands do what Gap is doing?
Its smart to focus on the 20% that generate revenue and the 40% that havent made up their mind about you yet. If safe is reaching that group than safe maybe smart! If safe isn't reaching that 60% than maybe its time to make a little noise... just expect to offend the 20% of consumers that are going to hate you!

This rule probably applies to interpersonal relationships as well...

Do you ever meet people with the expectation that roughly 20% will not like you?
Have you ever just decided to accept it, and be who you are regardless?

-Side note if substantially more than 20% hate you... you are probably doing something wrong. From an interpersonal level its realistic for that number to be much much lower over time.