When a negative (feature) becomes a positive (benefit)

Smart advertising can change a product's worst nightmere into a dream.

Imagine a first date in which you tell your companion your greatest fault. Quite an icebreaker.

To that end, I recently asked my students to consider the kind of advertising in which a product “acknowledges” what is negative about it, and the message turns the idea around to make the negative, positive again.  

With a little bit of discussion and guidance we landed on three ads that do this beautifully – ones that you may have seen, remembered or never noticed before.

“Think Small” from Volkswagen – during the early years of the VW Beetle in which Doyle, Dane, Bernbach embraced the ugly, little car during  the years of the production of jumbo American cars and never walked away from the fact that they were tiny, but fuel efficient and smart to own – before gas was $4.00 a gallon. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUlZmZ_sd_E

“Imported from Detroit “ from Chrysler– screened on the Super Bowl a few years back, reminding viewers that Detroit might not be the “Big City”, or “The Windy City”, but it carries the heritage of the “Motor City” and it can rise again to make a luxury car that Americans can be proud of. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKL254Y_jtc

Buckley’s Cough Syrup – suddenly it isn’t as hip to describe a cough syrup as good tasting – that is, if it tastes bad, it might just work that much better. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKL254Y_jtc

These are extremely unique ads in the way that they can address the “problem” before the competition does – and make it an advantage. It’s very much like the famous ad campaign that lasted for years for Avis – the also-ran auto rental firm that explained (as compared to Hertz), “We’re Number 2 . We try harder. “ It kept Avis the customer-focused brand – even today though the line is no longer used. 

Pretty amazing.  

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