- Use mean stereotypes. A recent Storwize video portrays a a storage administrator - an IT professional and presumably a customer - as an overweight, sweaty guy dressed in a white short sleeve shirt and tiny black tie. In other words, he’s Dilbert. He even gets abused by his data storage. A true loser. This has just got to insult IT people. And overweight people too. Lovely, a twofer. I did check with some sysadmins/IT pros I know about this. They were not amused.
- Being ironic. As in hipster ironic not real irony. Advertising that is full of snarky, insider jokes never works. Inevitably, someone doesn’t get the joke. Tech advertising can be like this. You try to be funny but it comes across as geeky. It’s all the internal references and acronyms folks. It doesn’t play well with the people who have to write the checks or the end users. Now, reduce it to a twitter Tweet and you get a lot of “Huh?” reactions. If your ad is making a play on the word iSCSI, it will have a small audience.
- Complex messages. Geico’s ads work (just like the Budweiser frogs) because the message is straightforward. Technology advertising tends to be a tad more complex. As in incomprehensible. How can you be funny when you jam several technical and business messages into 3 minutes? You can’t. Even if you start out funny, you are soon mired in Dullsville. Keep It Simple! When Dell ran a serious of ads full of colorful laptops being created to the song lollipop, it was cute, delightful, and humorous. It also got the message across that a laptop was a treat, something you enjoy and not just a tool. You ruin funny when you add complexity.
- No message at all or no connection to the product. Lots of these abound, especially in print. No pictures or mention of a product. Something cute and funny that grabs our attention and then… nothing. You have to connect the good feelings that the humor gives you to something. Otherwise the arousal is lost in space.
- Overdo it. One of the few places Geico blew it was when they overexposed the Cave Men. A whole TV show devoted to them was quite over the top. When you see or hear something repeatedly, you start to like it more. After a certain point, however, it gets overexposed and you begin to like it less. Psychologists have known about this behavior (called the Familiarity Principle) since the early 1960’s.
Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.