28 January, 2008

I Might Be a Sucker

Rolling my cart out of Safeway the other day, I was asked by a girl, maybe 10 or 11 years old and sitting behind a small table, “Would you like to buy some chocolate to raise money for a good cause? They’re only a dollar. The money goes to my school.” I thought, she seems excited, and I do like chocolate. Only a dollar! SOLD!

In retrospect, did I need it? I’m 40 pounds overweight, and this wasn’t some special enzyme-filled, calorie-reducing health chocolate. It wasn’t a great deal, either. I could’ve bought a Snickers in the checkout line for $0.79. Nor was it gourmet chocolate. It pretty much tasted like a Hershey bar, the same brand of miniatures I already had in my shopping cart. And as for the good cause? I don’t have any kids, so helping a school is only a benefit for me in that it keeps kids out of the way of my car during the day.

And when I asked her if it was a good school, she didn’t shout, “It’s the best school on the planet!” She shrugged her shoulders and, counting out five chocolate bars said, “Sure.” Thinking back, I'm wondering if I didn't hear her say, “Sure…sucker. And thanks for wearing your church sweatpants out on a Sunday, slob.”


So why did I buy this needless candy? This little girl presented an enthusiastic sales pitch for a product I already liked, followed by a reasonable price point. On top of that, it was for a good cause! I enjoy inexpensive chocolate, and I help save our nation's youth! Hooray!

So, is a strong pitch and a good deal all it takes sometimes? Is that why we still see infomercials for Tony Little's Rock and Roll Stepper?

Or why Billy Mays (Oxiclean, Orange Glo, Ding King, etc.) is such a popular pitchman?

I didn’t think I needed a Samurai Shark, but he just seemed so excited about it. Only three easy payments of $19.95! Why don’t they just give it away!

The answer is, YES.

As an ad agency, we love brilliant creative like this ad for Centraal Baheer insurance.

But not every campaign needs to be Advertising Genius. It may just need to be Advertising Smart. If you’re trying to get a brilliant concept to a hard-to-reach audience, it’s probably worth spending the extra money. But if your audience just needs a good price point to buy something they already use, like food or cleaning supplies or electronics equipment, then maybe you just need someone like this classic pitchman.

Although, as my father, Admiral Awesome, once noted, you do run the risk of annoying your potential customers. He’s vowed never to buy anything Billy Mays pitches. I said, “But Dad, he seems really excited.” He said, “Cap’n, we were really excited when you started remembering to zip up your fly, but we weren’t gonna sell it to anyone.” You win this round, old man.

So, know your message, know your audience, and decide, do I need something brilliant, or do I just need to spring Crazy Eddie out of prison?

-Captain Awesome, Project Specialist

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