By Roy H. Williams
Faster than a speeding bullet. Stronger than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Up in the sky. It’s a bird, it’s a plane!
There are only two things that can slow down Superman; an enemy named Lex Luthor and a destroyer called Green Kryptonite. Advertising is exactly like that. The only things that can slow it down are an enemy named Predictability and a destroyer called Sleep.
Contrived, derivative, formulaic ads are predictable. They don’t stimulate Broca’s area of the brain or activate the brain’s Visuospatial Sketchpad. They don’t cause your customer to imagine taking action. How predictable are the claims, offers and assurances you’re making in your ads?
Superman can defeat Lex Luthor only by doing what Lex is least expecting. Are you beginning to catch on here? Predictability is the archenemy of advertising. Don’t fall into its clutches.
Likewise, Superman’s powers are slowly erased in the presence of green Kryptonite. He has no defense against it. Prolonged exposure, in fact, would erase Superman completely. Sleep is the green Kryptonite of advertising. The effects of advertising are erased from the mind of the customer a little bit each night. The more sleep between repetitions of the ad, the greater the erasure from the mind.
Most advertisers crave immediate results from their ads. They want to climb the mountain all at once. This always results in a short-term advertising “blitz.” While this kind of blitz certainly limits the amount of sleep between ad repetitions, most people will not be in the market for what the advertiser is selling. The result: most people will discount the ads as “not for me.” Add this to the fact that these blitzes most often come interspersed with a good deal of customer sleep, and you get an entire campaign that is eminently forgettable.
Gee, wouldn’t it make more sense to climb the mountain slow and steady, week after week, month after month? Even if the erasure of nightly sleep means that you’re climbing “three steps forward, two steps back,” you’ll make it to the top of the mountain with patience, and the daring effort necessary to be unpredictable. Do you have the patience to establish a fortress at the top of the mountain? Do you have the courage it takes to be unpredictable? If you do, your ads will be every bit a match for the best efforts of Superman.