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FORMERLY THE WESTVIEW | EST. NASHVILLE 1978
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VOL. 36 | NO. 41 | Friday, October 12, 2012

Half measures aren’t enough in advertising

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“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” or so the slogan goes, but every time I visit Sin City I’m inspired to share how exceptionally well big brands in this congested market advertise in larger-than-life ways. Standing out from the tremendous volume of advertising clutter is the name of the game in Vegas, and marketers could learn a thing or two from this go-big-or-go-home approach.

Standing in McCarran International in Vegas a couple of years ago, I watched a ripple of commotion sweep through baggage claim as a red trunk with a pair of women’s legs protruding from one end, as though her body were enclosed in the case, circled the carousel with all of the other indistinguishable black roller bags. Printed on the side of the trunk was: “Lance Burton, Master Magician, Monte Carlo.” I was struck by its simplicity and spectacular effect – a reminder to seek out new marketing channels beyond the traditional mass media often clogged with competitor ads.

All too often, advertising dollars are spent on “me too” campaigns, where the only distinguishable aspect between your ad and your competitor’s is your logo. We must put forth a stronger effort to generate a return in this increasingly competitive marketplace where most businesses are so commoditized that true differentiators are hard to come by. If your next campaign could use a little oomph, take heed of these best practices in breakthrough advertising.

A family law practice put its faithful companion, a yellow Lab, on the payroll during lunchtime walks as a way to bring home the realities of what’s at stake in the unfortunate event of a divorce. They hung a sign across the pup’s back reading, “Who Keeps Me? Green & Co, Divorce Specialists.”

To launch its new upscale T-shirt and underwear line, brand GoldToe outfitted high-profile statues across New York City – including placing a rather large pair of underpants on the Wall Street Bull.

Mr. Clean took an everyday crosswalk and hit home its primary differentiator – its ability to clean even the dirtiest of jobs – in an innovative and low-cost way. They simply painted one of the stripes in the crossing bright white, in contrast to the dingy grey of the others, and added the infamous Mr. Clean logo.

To promote its new easy-grip bottle, Coca Cola printed transit shelter posters on Velcro that literally made passersby interact with the brand by catching their pant legs or jackets. Talk about an engaging “hook.”

The beauty of breakthrough advertising is it doesn’t have to cost a fortune; it just requires a little ingenuity and courage.

Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and managing partner of RedRover Sales & Marketing, www.redrovercompany.com, with offices in Memphis and Nashville. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).