Many great creative messages never see the light of day because a decision maker feels that it could, maybe, possibly, be offensive to someone – anyone. The problem is that those people who could be offended are not in the target group for the message. Great creative is edgy and often makes you feel discomfort.
It is important that we always ask the following questions in any brand communication:
1. Who is the target group we are trying to reach?
2. What do we want the target group to think that will cause them to take action?
3. What do we need to say that will influence their attitude?
I learned a memorable target group lesson first-hand from my two college age sons when I attended We Fest – a huge music festival in Minnesota – in 2007. (They took me along because I bought the tickets and I love country music.) If you’ve never been to We Fest, it is a three-day outdoor concert in Detroit Lakes and 83,000 fans attended in 2007. Not bad for a community of 8,141 people.
The first day I was watching the concert from my comfy lawn chair and enjoying the great country music and a college-age woman showed up to sit two rows in front of me. She was clearly trying to get someone’s attention. She wore a fluorescent pink hat and short shorts with a bikini top. She stood up for most of the concert, beer in hand, dancing (I think) and making a lot of noise. She succeeded in getting my attention and annoying me as she blocked my view.
The next day she was back again – in the same outfit doing the same moves and now was causing me serious discomfort. I leaned over to my two sons and said “what’s with that gal?” They listened to my concerns and instead of empathizing with me, replied “Dad, you are not her target group.” Like a blow to the head with a two-by-four, my two sons put me in my place with language I understood.
I have told that story a number of times in client meetings because sometimes we all lose sight of who the target group is. The next time you see an advertisement that causes you discomfort, ask yourself “am I the target group?” If not, that advertising message may be doing a better job than you think.