Marketing is Not Immune from the Law of Unintended Consequences

Coca-Cola has a bright new marketing campaign in Europe, demanding that people choose happiness over other mood states. As described in Adweek:

“The 70-second anthem by Ogilvy & Mather Amsterdam (it’s the office’s first work for the brand) introduces a new theme, “Choose Happiness,” and continues Coke’s tradition of casting itself as synonymous with joy. But it takes a more aggressive tone than usual. Not only can you be happy, you should be happy, right now, and all you have to do is reach out and grab it.”

It all sounds very aspirational and inspiring (if a little overwrought), until you take a moment to consider one particular advertisement, captioned “I choose happiness over years.”

Marketing it Not Immune from the Law of Unintended Consequences

One way of interpreting this ad is that the daredevil surfer has chosen to take risks in life– even if it means he might live a shorter life.

But another viewpoint might lead the customer to think drinking Coke is going to shorten your life span. But, hey, drinking Coke makes you happy, so you should do it anyway.

Whoops! Coca Cola’s new marketing campaign just stepped into the realm of unintended consequences. When planning your next marketing campaign, have some fresh eyes take a look, to make sure you are communicating clearly and effectively.

Stop Wasting Your Marketing Money

Stop wasting your marketing money on mass-marketing and start using it to find real customers. For small businesses, mass-marketing campaigns like newspaper ads, magazine ads or billboards usually don’t work. That’s because, while you’re paying to reach thousands of people, only a few of those people might be interested in what you are selling.

If you’re small, think small

When you think about your success and plan for your business’s future, think big. But when you plan on how many people your marketing communications should reach, think small. You want to reach only the people who are interested in products or services like yours. Right now, in the Delta Sky magazine, there’s a full-page ad for a synthetic motor oil, whose creator, it is claimed, “Changed lubrication history .” Giggles aside, how many travelers are in need of a synthetic lubricant during their flight?

Don’t waste your money on marketing to people who don’t care. Here are some tips for how small businesses can “think small” about their marketing:

  • Online search advertising and Search Engine Optimization. People are actively searching for your products and services. Be there when they are looking and ready to buy.
  • Stay in touch with your current customers, to encourage them to buy more frequently and refer you. For example, a resort might send a birthday card to past guests with a complimentary service coupon for the guest’s next stay.
  • Ask current customers where and how they first learned about you. If you hear the same answer several times, increase those marketing efforts.
  • Instead of advertising in publications, get mentioned in them. Your customers probably do read newspapers and magazines, but they trust the stories more than the advertisements. Do something news-worthy, and many publications will be glad to cover it (especially if you offer to provide the copy!).
  • If you are a local business, like a restaurant, go out in your neighborhood and meet your customers. One idea is to host an event that showcases your product, offers free samples or includes a contest. It’s inexpensive but effective.