Marketing campaign incentive and the power of suggestion

This ad pops up a lot when accessing my Hotmail account.

Advertising design has three golden rules that always work when selling products:
1 – beautiful women
2 – puppies
3 – cute babies

That’s the shortlist of golden rules. There are other rules to eye-catching ads like using colors red, black or yellow for maximun impact.

This ad gets one and a half (because the dog isn’t real). But, come on, who really wants to get a free pink stuffed dog with the purchase of Victoria’s Secret products.

Clearly this ad is not targeted toward my demographic. What am I going to do with a pink puppy? Maybe some of my female readers could enlighten me as to why this would be a good incentive to purchase Victoria’s Secret products.

However, when planning customer incentives, the marketing campaign director should have considered: Does this marketing incentive (a pink fluffy dog) fit the Victoria’s Secret demographic? A free pink fluffy dog might be a buyer incentive for FAO Schwarz customers.

According to this article, they are targeting a younger audience:

“We wanted to capture the spirit of the young with Pink,” said Anthony Hebron, spokesman for Victoria’s Secret

and further

“The Pink collection is an excellent idea because it caters to a different customer than the company’s core, slightly older shopper. The college crowd was sort of a white space for Victoria’s Secret that it needed to address…”

Do college coeds like pink fluffy dogs? Seriously, doesn’t a free pink fluffy dog incentive seem more like Victoria’s Secret is targeting a younger than college age demographic — like teens or tweens?

As a designer of ads and a father, this marketing concerns me a bit. I recently designed an ad for a local brewery that targets responsible adults. But I would not design beer ads that appeal to juveniles.

The visual power of suggestion is a very potent tool among art directors, graphic designers and marketers. It should be used effectively, efficiently and responsibly.

This is going to date me a bit, but the “Keep America Beautiful” public service campaign commercial starring Chief Iron Eyes Cody in the 70s challenged people to live responsibly by not polluting the landscape. Visually effective and efficient, it suggested that Americans consider not our own generation but the generations to follow. I need to remember this principle when designing ads or other materials. I hope I am not alone in trying to design responsibly.

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