Bad Marketing 101: Mixed Messaging

Consistency – The Key to Proper Messaging

Sometimes advertisers seem more concerned with being clever than with being effective.  Unfortunately, sometimes those who develop ads and messaging are more focused on the flash rather than the substance.  Don’t get caught up in this with your marketing campaigns.  ATT U-Verse Ad - Bad messaging

Buyer behavior is affected by both overt and covert cues.  Basically, the mind is tuned in to all stimuli, and uses these various inputs to form an overall impression.  When these stimuli do not align, the mind is faced with cognitive dissonance.  A term used by psychologists.  It is a fancy way of saying confusion.

A current TV commercial is a prime example of confusing messaging.  It is for U-Verse high speed internet service.  The message they are trying to convey is “reliability”.  The setting is a family at home talking about their reliable internet service.  The problem with the messaging is all hell is breaking loose around the house.  Ceiling fans falling, faucets leaking, walls crumbling down.  All while the family members are giving their testimonials about reliability.  It is not a quantum leap for the mind to include U-Verse with the things breaking around the house.

Imagine if an investment firm (focused on trust, confidence) had as spokesperson a used car salesman, plaid coat and all.  Even if the messaging was well-scripted and funny, the observer probably would not want to trust their investments to the firm.  People naturally seek a more conservative, straight-laced figure that enhances their trust in the firm.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for humor in advertising.  It just should align with the overall theme of the messaging.  Beer ads are a good example.  Funny things happening are associated with having a beer and having a good time.  It works well for beer ads – not as a means of building consumer confidence.

Newsflash for ATT/U-verse:  Your main competition (Comcast/Xfinity) is directly challenging your reliability in ads.  Why would you even think about using household mishaps as a source of humor?  It is ridiculous.

When you are developing or approving messaging – as yourself one basic question:  Is the main theme of this messaging in alignment with my brand DNA?

If your messaging is not promoting your brand, it is demoting it.  And of course wasting time and money in the process.