Marketing and Brand Messaging

I’ve seen some really offbeat messaging in marketing campaigns, and I’ve also seen some fantastic messaging that perfectly conveys ideas and perceptions which contribute positively to brand equity.

Porter Air is an example of the good. Brand messaging is executed flawlessly by Porter’s creative agency (Winkreative) virtually every time. In fact, I’ve never seen a Porter ad that isn’t great, from an execution and messaging standpoint. You’d think that the cartoon raccoon would come across a bit childishly and devalue the brand- but, the elements of elegance used in combination with the cartoon raccoon lend creative balance to the ads. Whether or not the cartoon raccoon is for you is mostly a matter of preference- but you can’t dispute that Porter campaigns convey a sense of ease, calm, and cosmopolitanism with using Porter’s services. That’s a powerfully appealing message (especially to those who have suffered a righteous, unashamed screwing from the entrenched airlines).

On the flip side, some ad campaigns make you scratch your head. A recent TV spot for the Lexus CT Hybrid comes to mind. There are a few fundamental problems with the ad campaign. Though the content is a bit jarring due to the CGI used in the constant scene changes, the deeper issue is poorly executed brand and product messaging. What the commercial is trying to convey without actually saying it is that the viewer can safely change their perception of hybrid cars from clunky fuel sippers to high-performance joymachines… now that the 2011 Lexus CT Hybrid is here. That message is buried far too deeply for the average consumer to grasp with the TV ad format though (few people truly engage with TV adverts and pick them apart to find meaning- most simply watch and forget, or go to the kitchen for a snack).

Additionally, the impact statement is contradictory. At the end of the commercial, the narrator says ‘Welcome to the darker side of green.’ It’s unclear what that statement is supposed to mean. Perceptually, ‘dark’ is most often associated with negativity, evil, terror, or general badness. Yet, the green movement is generally accepted as a positive by consumers. So, is the Lexus CT Hybrid a bad part of a good thing? Not great messaging. I suspect that the true intent behind the impact statement is something along the lines of ‘your hybrid can be edgy and badass if it’s a Lexus.’

The lesson to be learned? Put some serious thought into what your advertising is saying to consumers. Not only what’s being spoken, but what’s being communicated visually and conceptually.


Disclosure: at time of writing, I did not own an equity position in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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