Posts Tagged ‘Hannibal and Me’

Reality Speaks for Itself

February 13, 2014

So you might expect that I’d deem this Dell ad a failure based on my last post.

Yes, I know Dell was started in a dorm room and part of what attracted me to Dell (back when I was in the PC world) was that sense of excitement around something new. Dell was an innovator, selling directly to consumers, building PCs to order. But I’m said to say for me and Dell, that was almost 20 years ago now. The Dell of today,from where I stand, has become another commodity, whether they fell pray to the innovator’s dilemma, just didn’t have a second act, or just lost touch with their roots and values as they grew, I don’t know.

That’s why this ad is so compelling. It touches on the Dell that I remember, it touches on that excitement and the feelings associated with boot-straping and startups. I think this ad is well done, in case you haven’t gotten that point yet. But I think the real test of whether this ad is a success or failure is what Dell does next.

Is this just another ad designed to bolster Dell’s position in the market place or is this ad a real attempt by Dell to reconnect with their roots? Is this ad a signal that Dell is going to take ownership of that startup story?

If Dell thinks that they can run an ad like this one and continue with business as usual, and things will change, then I think they’re in for a surprise. But if Dell is really committed to having that start-up spirit again, if we (meaning consumers) see those changes in their choices as a company, well then that’s an exciting proposition.

What if Dell said, “We’re the computer company of entrepreneurs everywhere because we were started in a dorm room, so we get it” (ok that’s more of the meta-message, they should say that, but much less on the nose). What if they had special services that catered to the entrepreneur in all of us. Like what? I don’t know, Dell would need to figure that out, it could be a special tech support system or having a business consultant who could help you use Dell technology to start your venture, the details (so long as they’re actually useful to entrepreneurs) aren’t so important, what is important is that they match their message, the story they’re telling in this ad, with what consumers see them doing.

People have good bullshit detectors, if a company spins a story that doesn’t match the reality, folks usually pick it up. This is a compelling ad, an ad that tells a story, the real question is this: Is that story fiction or nonfiction?

What is a successful ad?

February 12, 2014

I read a great book last year called “Hannibal and Me.”  In a nutshell, the book talked about the writer’s obsession with the great Carthaginian General Hannibal. In examining his life, he makes a larger point about success and failure. Rome never defeated Hannibal in battle. At one point he killed something like 1/5 of all Romans who were eligible to serve in the army. Was Hannibal a success or failure?

Sixteen years always fighting the much larger Roman army on their home turf never defeated, and ultimately never victorious… Hannibal never took Rome, never brought Rome to its knees. He was defeated by a Roman General named Fabius. Fabius’ strategy, constant retreat, he never won a battle.

How we define success and failure is often overlooked, but it is critical to remember what your ultimate goals are.

Which brings us to these ads:

I think these are both terrific ads, great copy, well filmed with compelling visuals (wait for it, here it comes….). But I have to wonder if the build up matches the payoff.

After all that does an apron really equal progressive? Is that what Progressive is about? Is it about hard work, about the people who show up everyday without a hint of glory? That’s not what I think of as Progressive Insurance, they’re the ones with Flo and low rates, maybe.

And the second ad, is beautiful. Its how anyone in love feels when they look at the person they love, it captures a truth, and in doing so it says we get it, we understand you. I was with the ad, in with the payoff (how long did it take for those flowers to sprout) that was a little sappy. But its selling what? Hair care products, what? How are they involved in love? I mean the woman had great hair, but what? Now maybe that brand has some affiliation with that message, but still I felt cheated at the end.

So are these good ads? Yes. Are they successful ads? I don’t think so…. Which brings me back to my first question: Are these good ads? Can an ad that doesn’t succeed in pushing its message, that doesn’t change the image of a brand or build upon its existing image be a good ad?

I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think it can.


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