Marketers Return to “Good Ole Days” Strategy

TakeAway: With the economy still a long way from recovering, marketers are turning to an old strategy to reconnect with consumers.

Recent ads from automobile and even bourbon companies aim to reach the average Joe via the theme of shared values 

Advertising that makes an emotional appeal to consumers is by no means a new trick to advertisers or their agency partners, but it’s easier said than done. 

One of the classic, textbook examples of marketers who excel at this is Coca-Cola, which isn’t selling bottles of Coke, per se, but “8- and 12-oz. bottles of happiness.” 

In tough times, the strategy may be even more critical as cash-strapped consumers are more likely to spend money on brands that closely align with their personal values.

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Excerpted from WSJ, “Marketers Embrace ‘Values’ Pitch in Tough Times” By Elaine Wong, February 17, 2011

The two-minute Chrysler “Imported from Detroit” commercial is full of values-laden phrases. There are the obvious descriptors like “hard work” and “conviction” as well as adages that inspire awe and determination, such as: “It’s the hottest fires that make the hardest steel.” Or, thought-provoking questions like, “What does a town that’s been to hell and back know about the finer things in life?” All statements that are meant to encourage consumers to take a second look at Chrysler by prompting them to reconsider their values.

Another one of Detroit’s Big Three, General Motors, which also advertised in the Super Bowl, has been running a campaign for the last four months to promote its new lineup of Chevrolet vehicles, including its Volt electric and Cruze compact cars. A 60-second “anthem” or anchor television spot takes viewers through Chevrolet’s historical past, as well as a brief look into its future. “One hundred years ago, Chevrolet sprang bolt by bolt, car by car, out of the very best America had to offer: ingenuity, integrity, optimism,” the voiceover says.  There is also a subtle plug at Chevy’s “deep” history: “This isn’t just any car company. This is Chevrolet. And the strength of our nation can be found in every car and truck we make. That’s why today, tomorrow and on into a bright future, we can proudly say, ‘Chevy runs deep.’”  The strategy is a bit different from the past, when Chevrolet marketed its vehicles via a “hard sell” kind of approach–i.e., “We’re an American brand, you’re an American consumer, therefore, you should buy our products.”

The shift stemmed from this insight: “While consumers want us to succeed, they don’t want to spend their hard earned money on us just because we’re made in the U.S. and are a U.S. company.” A better approach was to focus on the emotional reasons behind why Americans buy Chevrolets.

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