In marketing communications, as in lots of professions, experience can be invaluable. It usually means you have more tools to assess situations, come up with solutions and generally do your job better. Experience also gives you more confidence in approaching all those things. And perhaps even with more conviction in your assessments and solutions. But there, I’m here to tell you, is the rub.
Photo courtesy of Adweek.
You see, we can all be extremely good at our jobs, but when it comes to communications, at least, no matter how much experience we have or how insightful or creative we are, we can still have blind spots. So it pays to keep an open mind. I’ll give you two examples I’ve run into where my assessments on marketing and communications concepts, so to speak, were off the mark — in this case because my assumptions based on my experience were incorrect.
A most interesting miscalculation
First, the beer brand, Dos Equis, recently announced that they were retiring their longtime pitchman, Jonathan Goldsmith, otherwise known as The Most Interesting Man in The World.” (See Adweek, “Ad of the Day: Jonathan Goldsmith Ends His Epic Run as Dos Equis' Most Interesting Man”). He’ll be seen in his last commercial being sent on a one-way mission to Mars.
A few years ago, I remember seeing one of the Most Interesting Man commercials when I was watching TV with my then college-age son and commenting that I thought the campaign was lame. “No way,” he shot back. He loved the campaign. I didn’t ask whether he drank the brand at the time. He wasn’t really of age. But if you have kids who are in, or have been through, college, I’m sure you can relate.
Anyway, the point is that I initially had no idea about the millennial mindset when it came to assessing this creative concept. Since then, I’ve grown to respect and even enjoy the campaign and the way it positions Dos Equis as mysterious and exotic, something that obviously resonated with my son. In writing about the campaign, Customerthink.com says the brand's position has its roots in an insight that college kids were discovering the brand on spring break in Mexico and continuing to seek it out at home.
When experience can work against you
More recently, I ran into a similar situation assessing the name of a new business here where I live and work in Portland, Maine. It is a flotation center, where one lies suspended in a large tub of salt water for 90 minutes of sensory-deprived relaxation. My wife’s cousin, whose last name by marriage is Harder, is opening the business with her husband and they have chosen to call it Float Harder.
A number of us in the family were scratching our heads about the name, thinking it was at odds with the idea of relaxation. I’m not sure if anyone actually voiced their concern for this young couple investing a ton of money in this new venture with a name we considered risky at best, and possibly even fatal.
But here’s the thing. Once again, I’m afraid my experience — and my misunderstanding of how millennials view things — may have steered me wrong. Because when we mentioned this new business and its name to our kids, they were all over it. You might say they think it’s “sick.” Which, by the way means good. And gives you some insight into why they like the name.
In any case, my point is that when it comes to communications concepts, as in many things, it’s best to keep an open mind. Because that campaign I thought was lame has lasted 10 years already and will continue on with a new, younger, Most Interesting Man In The World. And with my newfound insight, I suspect that Float Harder will enjoy great success with the growing cohort of young professionals making a living in our fantastic little city here in the Northeast. Seriously. It’s gonna be dope.
And there you have it.