How to invade the mind.

Imagine yourself picking up the Targum on your way to class or work in the morning. You’re flipping through the pages, casually skimming for ads or the latest football update. An ad catches your eye. You start reading it, and it has you hooked. Now what is it that caught your attention, or better yet, hopefully made you want to act upon reading that ad?

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     As human beings, we can’t deny that ads with great appeal, color and size help to greatly draw the attention of the reader. But what makes the difference between a mediocre ad and an effective ad is the implementation of the “Why”.

You may be thinking to yourself “…What?”, but don’t worry, we will actually get to that part later. Simon Sinek, an amazing public speak once presented a TedTalk about the importance in understanding the “why” in what an organization does. This concept weaves heavily into the marketing tactics and campaigns that an organization deploys.

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Using the Targum, I conducted an analysis of 3 Targum ads as a way to show one the difference between brilliant and ineffective ads.

The first ad is from the Eagleton Institute of Politics – RUVOTING:

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The ad I believe has a great aesthetic appeal. It is in color, which definitely helps the catch the readers attention. The information on the ad is easy to follow and students would have no problem attending the event. However, what makes the ad ineffective is the lack of “why”. The “what” in this case is to attend the event and watch the debate. Followed by an assumed discussion about the debate afterwards. The “how” here is to sign up by RSVP-ing and showing up at the correct location and time. No where on the ad is there a “why”. Now this may be a fault on the side of their marketing tactics of assuming why attending the showing of a debate is important to the future of America. It definitely helps educate the average student on many pressing topics…but from the ad I wouldn’t know that. Those are also MY assumptions. So I ask these questions in regards to the ad that should have been addressed: Why attend this event? What will attending and watching the debate do for the mission of the organization? Why should I care? I have learned to never assume that the reader or the target audience knows the purpose of the an organization or a cause. There should always be the implementation of the “why” when an organization is attempting to reach out. If not, what motivate the average student to attend? From Sinek’s talk, starting with the why will have a great chance of motivating the individual. To wrap up the analysis on this ad, I have to say it was a weak ad. While I love the aesthetic appeal, it failed to present the fact of “why” one should attend the event.

The second ad I analyzed was the Facilities’ “Campus vs. Campus” Electric Energy Reduction Competition Campaign.

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Again, just as the Eagleton ad, it is very aesthetically pleasing. It was very concise, organized and simple to follow the information provided. However, it also falls in the category of an ineffective ad. I do find it funny that the they did assess the “When”, “Where”, and “Who”….if only it was the “Why”, “How” and “What”. Oh the power of 3, it can work wonders. But moving forward, the ad falls short on not relaying to the reader “why” one should participate. One can obviously assume that it is to help save energy to cut down consumption  and help improve the environment. The “how” is by cutting down on energy consumption. The winner does get a trophy announced at the Rutgers-Army football game, but that is an end result — the “what”. If the Facilities Department elaborated more on the importance of this program, such as saying students need to become more environmentally conscious, that would have GREATLY helped the reader (myself included) to become more involved in this initiative. Again, sadly, this ad falls into the category of failing to really inspire people to join their cause.

The third and final ad I analyzed was one for the School of Social Work.

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What I find extremely interesting is the fact that this ad is not only the smallest, most simple and lacking in pictures but also the most effective of all 3. From looking at the ad, the first thing that immediately stands out is the bold statement “Make a difference…“. BAM! It not only catches the readers eye but it poses a very interesting call to action (which I personally think are always EXTREMELY effective). Right there, the first thing the reader sees, is the “why”. To me the reason why the Rutgers School of Social Work put out this ad to recruit people is to make a difference. That is there cause, and it is what personally made me already buy into the ad without reading the rest. As we move down, we get exactly into the how. One may ask them self “How can I make a difference?”. Well the good ole people down at the School of Social Work were nifty ones by placing “Find out how a degree from Rutgers School of Social Work will help you make a difference in the lives of others”. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have Simon Sinek on staff…I will investigate and let you all know. But to finish off the great teaching of Sinek, the “what” in this case is the School of Social Work, and by joining it will help one make a difference.

In conclusion, I think that the final ad was the most effective. It goes to show you that color, bubbly text and shiny pictures wont always speak to the reader. Those aspect of the ad only serve to scrape the surface of the reader’s mind. What really penetrates the mind of the reason is by having substance to the ad, by showing the “why”. So remember the teachings of Sinek:

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”

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