November 3rd, 2007 by Joe
There are 2 types of people these days: those with some sense of cellphone etiquette and propriety, and those who would leave their phone on at a funeral. And take the call.
After stewing in their misery as runaway inconsiderate cellphone usage has ruined movies, meals and concerts, those who prefer to occasionally have some quiet time have some options now. Cellphone jammers can effectively end any cellphone calls and prevent new connections from being made by broadcasting a strong signal which disrupts the phones’ communications. Only thing is, this is illegal. For 2 reasons, it seems:
- Indiscriminate use of these jammers could possibly wind up interrupting communications of emergency crews (fire, ambulance, police). While the odds of this happening seem pretty low, it certainly could have tragic consequences.
- Cellphone companies pay big bucks to the FCC for access to certain frequencies. Jammers would essentially block them from getting what they paid for. Now this is the real reason behind the law. Do they have a point? Sure, but their products are also responsible for disrupting the lives of non-users’. So it’s a little hard to feel bad for them if you’ve ever had to bear someone relaying intimate details of their life over the phone on the subway.
This all came up because of an article in the New York Times - Devices Enforce Cellular Silence, Sweet but Illegal. Apparently, more and more people are sourcing cell jammers from outside the US. Pocket models appear to be popular, since a user can ‘zap’ conversations of people around himself if he finds them annoying. Vigilantism? Sure. Is it satisfying? I bet it is.
Stay tuned for the first case of cellphone-blocked-signal-rage, and the court case which follows.
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Posted in Annoyvertising, Rule Breakers |
December 27th, 2006 by Joe
Have you seen this commercial?–
I think of this as a great example of annoyance advertising, which I will henceforth refer to as annoyvertising. I was reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about Head On’s ad, and this ad seemed to be presented as a failure because it was annoying. I’m not so sure that’s really the basis for judgement… isn’t it possible for an annoying ad to be a success? Huge piles of telephone books adorned with ads from ambulance-chasing lawyers seem to say yes.
Advertising is tricky. Just because you like the ad doesn’t mean you will like (and buy!) the product. So the reverse must be true as well.
So how can you evaluate an ad’s effectiveness, after eliminating the subjective criteria such as ‘makes me laugh’? How about comparing the Head On ad against a few criteria for success:
- Ad calls attention to itself. Check. Annoying sure gets your attention.
- Ad is memorable. Check. See it once, you’ll never forget it.
- Ad calls attention to the product. Check. Not too hard to deduce that they’re selling something called ‘Head On’.
- Ad tells you what product is for. Here, we start to get a little iffy. I mean, the ad tells me what to do with the product (apply directly to forehead), but isn’t so clear on why or when I need to do that. Personally, I didn’t have trouble understanding from the first time I saw the ad that this was for headaches. But experience has shown that some people need things to be stated more explicitly (maybe the same people that the ‘don’t use hair dryer in bathtub’ stickers are intended for). There’d be a tendency to assume that there was some focus group testing of the ad to examine this point, but on the other hand, if you’re going to film a 15 second ad on a budget of perhaps $27.50, you probably aren’t going to spring for a focus group.
- Ad makes you want to buy the product. Now here’s the real moment of truth. The ad either drives revenue, or it doesn’t. Without the benefit of some focus group testing, this is the leap of faith for the advertiser… I know the product by name, but maybe I hate the ad so much I refuse to buy it. On the other hand, that’s just me. With this exact same factor applicable, millions of people still tune in to watch reality TV and talk shows week after week. Many of these seem to draw audiences specifically because the shows are annoying. Jerry Springer and Geraldo Rivera, for example.
With these thoughts in mind, I searched around a bit, and found a great article on the ad. Apparently, the company did actually do some focus testing, and found that the repetition was extremely effective. The company also claims to have allotted tens of millions of dollars to broadcasting the ad, so if they have any clue what they are doing, we can assume it must be paying off for them. I’d love to meet these people. I picture Rodney Dangerfield’s character from ‘Back To School’.
Bottom line: annoyvertising works. It just goes to show that every golden business rule can be broken to great effect, if done right. If everyone zigs, you should think about zagging. In this case, ‘don’t tick off the people you’re trying to sell to’, is turned on it’s head: ‘tick them off, and they’ll remember you’. It might not work for GM or Microsoft, but for an unknown company with a tiny ad budget, it seems to be a great way to leverage the dollars for maximum effect.
By the way, if you are interested, there is more on the Head On phenomena here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HeadOn I particularly like the bit noting that the product is mostly wax. Ah, the power of marketing.
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Posted in Annoyvertising, Rule Breakers, 4P's - Promotion, Marketing |