Saturday, March 17, 2007

Creatively Wild or Just Unwise?

Yesterday, we had another episode in what has been a long-time debate in our office:

When is an ad daring and innovative and when does it cross the line into nutty or silly?

(Subtext: Why is it that most women don't like The Three Stooges?)

We're familiar with Seth Godin's Purple Cow theory and the admonition that playing it safe can be risky, but when you're selling consulting services, there are different expectations than when you're selling tomatoes or hamburgers.

In other words, people like humor but if they don't know you, they may see a humorous ad and assume that funny is all you've got. First and foremost, they want a consultant who will get the job done.

What makes this difficult is the recognition that the safe, stodgy, ads are, well, safe and stodgy and tend to blend into the background. Judging from ones for upscale law firms, the mahogany supply must be endangered and that's pretty much the only thing I recall from any of those ads.

Naturally, the audience must be considered. We pondered that - thanks to the insight of Diane Sanders - and, wisely I think, replaced the humorous ad with a safe one.

The ad may not hit the target but we won't worry about it.

And that's the lesson we learned: The removal of worry trumped a whole lot of other considerations.

We'll save "wild and crazy" for another day. Drat!

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