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The Story of Emotions in Advertising
A great story always elicits emotions. As you watch a great film or television show, or read a great book, you may feel happiness, or sadness, you may be inspired, or you may feel your heart break. Great stories may make you laugh, may make you cry, and some will make you do both… at the same time.
These emotions may catch you off guard. After all, you probably went to see the film, or picked up the book, as entertainment. But truly great stories go far beyond entertainment. They pull you in to their world. They envelope you. Some, perhaps, may even change you, and your outlook on life, forever.
When we create advertising campaigns, our goal is the same. We don’t just want to “sell” something to the audience. We want to engage them. We want to tell a great story. It may be the story of a product, of a company, or of a charity or a cause, but we create stories that touch our audiences. Why? Because our most effective campaigns, and our most effective infomercials, tell a story that creates an emotional response in the audience.
In a society of instant gratification, it could be tempting to scream… to deliver your product features and your price, and be done with it. What do you suffer? Sales, and long-term engagement with your brand. To have a truly successful campaign, you must tell a story that resonates with your target audience.
Having created many extremely successful campaigns over the years, my belief in this theory has only strengthened. We’ve told great stories, for great products with great success. While it may sound silly to tell a great story about a George Foreman Grill, we did…. and the campaign was a huge success. We told the story of not just the product, but what the product could do, what it could mean, and how it could change the lives of those watching. Millions of people watched the story, responded to the story, and created success for our clients.
We’ve done the same for many other products. From cooking appliances to timeshares, we create stories that elicit emotions, generate a response, and create sales. Ultimately, that always elicits another emotion for our clients: happiness.
I’ve been creating commercials for nearly twenty years now, and producing infomercials for over a decade. We are pitched many products each week, which we try to evaluate as quickly as possible. At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves “Do we think this will work?”
It’s a tough question. Direct response is one of the most complex and interesting mediums around. You make an instant impression. You get instant results. Campaigns generally either work, or they don’t. When you ask yourself “Do I think this will work?” there is a lot riding on the answer.
The reality? No one knows with certainty until we test. Oh, you’ll hear people say “It’ll never sell!” or perhaps they’ll say “It’s a sure thing!” In both cases, they’re wrong. Unless they have shot the campaign, purchased the media, and tested it, they simply do not know with 100% certainty.
So what do we rely on? Experience. Industry knowledge. Awareness of the marketplace. Research. And, oh, a bit of intuition. You have to rely on data, but you’re foolish to ignore your gut.
At the end of the day, we have to decide if we think it will work. If we do, we dive in and do as much benchmarking, industry research and competitive analysis as possible. We jump back into our data, and our gut, with more facts… and, if we still feel strongly, we’re jumping in with both feet. After all, if we think this will work, and we think we’re the right team to make it work, we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure we’re right.
That’s usually the reaction when someone sees a brilliant invention that solves an everyday common problem. The fact is, countless people have become millionaires by simply coming up with solutions to things that annoy us. Of course, coming up with an idea isn’t enough… you have to share that idea with the world.
Infomercials and direct response commercials are certainly an ideal way to share big ideas with the world. As our company has evolved, we have also helped our clients spread the word on optimized websites, social media, and innovative word-of-mouth campaigns. The results are pretty astounding, and people have been able to live their dreams, all because they had an idea and acted on that idea.
So sit down, write a list of things that annoy you, then come up with some solutions. If you have a great idea, give us a call, we just may be able to help that dream come to life.
When I was in college, a professor once asked me to name two commercials that were currently on the air – one that was effective and one that was ineffective. I chose Chevy’s then-new “Like a Rock Campaign” and Isuzu’s “Joe Isuzu” campaign.
“Like a Rock” was brilliant. It used a familiar song, and conveyed a very strong branding message for their trucks. The message, the masculine voice over, and the visuals all conveyed one clear message – Chevy was tough, dependable, solid… Chevy was like a rock.
“Joe Isuzu” was very creative and captured immediate attention. It positioned Joe as a pathological liar who made outrageous claims about Isuzu cars. “It has more seats than the Astrodome”, “I just used my Isuzu truck to carry a 2,000 pound cheeseburger.” They were attention-grabbing, they were funny, and they had people talking around the water cooler.
At the time, both campaigns were new. During that class, I had no idea how sales were tracking for either company, but my beliefs were solid. “Like a Rock” effectively conveyed the brand and its promise. It sold Chevy as a tough, dependable, working-class brand. “Joe Isuzu” made outrageous claims which could in no way be justified. “Joe Isuzu” was certainly more creative, but it was also infinitely less effective. Rather than building the brand’s integrity, it degraded it. It made its own features, its own attributes, and its own promises a punch line.
So, I chose “Like a Rock” as the most effective, and “Joe Isuzu” as the least. “Like a Rock” ran for twelve years, and was immensely successful. Today , it is seen as one of the most effective campaigns in history. “Joe” was off the air within two years, ultimately underperforming expectations, and some would say degrading their brand value in America. By 2008, they ceased all sales of passenger cars in the US.
As the president of the Random Agency, I always keep Joe Isuzu in the back of my mind. Our campaigns are among the most creative around, but they always, always, deliver our clients’ message and brand in an effective manner. There’s no point in grabbing attention if the message you are delivering is flawed.
Our friends often wonder why in the world we enjoy doing infomercials. It’s a legitimate question. After all, the industry does have a bit of a used-car salesman image, which is sometimes well deserved. The reason, we enjoy it, however, is that it can be the ultimate example of the American Dream… all wrapped up in thirty minutes or less.
Where else can someone come up with a great idea, put it in front of millions of people and potentially create millions of dollars in sales in a few months? Couple this with the relatively low cost of launching an infomercial, the immediate sales feedback, and the addition of interactive and social media strategies, and you have the recipe for success.
So what’s not to like? If you look at the industry success rate, only 1 in 10 infomercial products will actually succeed. That’s just 10%, which we thought was a bit ridiculous. You have to remember, however, that those numbers include products launched by amateurs, and unscrupulous companies and producers, who will jump at the chance to produce any infomercial for any product. At the Random Agency, we approach things from a completely different perspective, and select our products very, very carefully. The result? A 90% success rate.
With that type of record, which is unmatched in the industry, you can see why companies like Disney, the George Foreman Grill, Marie Osmond, the Juiceman, and many others have turned to the Random Agency. We have a unique approach, a tireless dedication to our clients, tremendous instincts, and the results to prove it.
In the end, we stand by, ready to help. Whether it’s an inventor with a new product or a Fortune 100 company seeking to quickly and effectively expand sales, we know exactly what we’re doing, and we can help you capture success.
We are fortunate to live in a nation where anyone can achieve success simply be coming up with a new idea. When my friends ask me why we enjoy doing infomercials, I simply reply that we love helping people live out their American Dream. What could be better than that?
When I was 22, I was hired to write, direct and produce international Christmas Specials for Disney. The project was a huge success and led to future work in the Emmy-Award winning shows Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Secrets of the Animal Kingdom. I’ve produced and directed for ABC, NBC, ESPN, the NBA, and Paramount Pictures. Along the way, we built a team, and made numerous campaigns, commercials and themed attractions for Disney, NASA, and the CNN Experience in New York City. We also made a short film, which was acquired by Dreamworks and Imagine Entertainment.
The name of the company became Random Motion Pictures. Why Random? Well, what other company combined television, films, commercials, themed attractions, and marketing expertise? It was a Random collection of talent, but when brought together, it brought immense success for our clients.
Our ability to attract and influence consumers was not lost on large corporations. Before long, we were asked to jump into the world of infomercials and direct response. Our projects have included the George Foreman Grill, GEM Keep it Cool with Marie Osmond, the George Foreman Roaster, the Juiceman, and our latest success, Disney Vacation Club.
As our infomercial and commercial department grew, and became more successful, our clients requested our help in media buying, call center management, and fulfillment operations. We grew our team, and exceeded our clients’ expectations. Not only is it easier for our clients, it has allowed us to substantially increase profitability and the ROI for our clients.
What does the future hold? There are no limits. We are expanding our interactive team, growing our experiential video department, and have a few other tricks up our sleeves. We are dedicated to the success of each and every one of our clients, and look forward to exceeding all of their expectations along the way.
Now, after nearly a decade, it is clear that the name Random Motion Pictures does not quite capture exactly what we do. We are, by any measure, one of the most integrated full-service agencies on the planet. Our team can handle nearly every element of a campaign, and we have valuable partners to assist in any function we do not incorporate in-house. And so, here at the start of 2013, Random Motion Pictures officially becomes the Random Agency.
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