I learned early on that nothing kills a bad product faster than great advertising. When you think about, this oxymoronic statement makes complete sense. Good ads drive trial. And if the product is lousy, trial is the kiss of death.
A classic example of this was the Piel’s campaign from the 1950s. An animated campaign featuring two cartoon characters, Harry and Bert Piel, piqued interest in this local eastern beer. However, when people tried it, well, they didn’t want to try it again. Sales dropped.
Now, here’s a cousin to this concept. “Great ads kill themselves.”
Now, most copywriters and art directors think only clients and testing kill great ads. And that can happen. But great ads also kill themselves.
Here’s how: great ads create demand. But, sometimes the client is not able to fulfill that demand – at least in the short run. (Economics 101) Suddenly, consumers are getting annoyed. The fastest, easiest solution is to pull the plug on the advertising. Shut it down. Yank it off the air.
One example I am familiar with was when we launched a FreshDirect TV campaign back in 2006. We aired several humorous spots featuring famous New Yorkers, like Spike Lee and Ed Koch. As demand went up, suddenly consumers were not able to get the delivery time slots they wanted. FreshDirect simply didn’t have the trucks to meet the extra demand. Our ad agency got several cranky calls from Manhattanites saying “take those funny spots off the air, I can’t get my food.”
Recently, we launched a digital campaign for a midwestern graduate school. The inquiries have multiplied several times over. The admissions staff, which prefers to personally handle each inquiry, is being taxed to the limit. It will be interesting to see what happens next. Will they hire more people – or cut the media buy. Stay tuned.