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Annoying Branding Campaigns: Brilliant or So Yesterday?

ad campaigns

There is a ridiculous ad campaign being profusely barfed all over the airwaves in Tampa that is causing quite a stir. I won’t mention the person or the product or the brand, because I refuse to give this campaign another ounce of free advertising; but, unfortunately, you will probably already know what it is.

So, for that, I have to acknowledge that the awful, ear-grating, brain-numbing campaign is doing something for their brand awareness; and for sure, people are talking about it. But, quite frankly, the campaign immediately makes me think of this scene in Dumb & Dumber:

I had finally had it. After hearing variations of the obviously unscripted, confusing, lacking any sort of call-to-action however always including his stupid-but-unmistakable tagline that is forced into the 30-seconds in the most meaningless of ways ad campaign, during every single commercial break on TV and radio, (run-on sentence acknowledged, but necessary) I ranted on Facebook. And here are some of the subsequent comments that followed:

  • I would never buy anything from him!
  • I change the channel/hit mute the second his ad comes on.
  • He is so verbally abusive to the woman in the ad that I want to go down there and give him a piece of my mind.
  • The woman with him looks like she has been drugged and forced to perform.
  • He’s a narcissist/he is arrogant.
  • You just created a brand campaign that screams narcissism, implies spousal abuse, and encourages self-infliction of eardrum damage to avoid listening to you. Congratulations!
  • So annoying that I have called his office to complain about his nauseating ads.

To be fair, I also read comments like this:

  • I hate it too, but I kinda want to meet him. Repetition, repetition, repetition!
  • It is the most annoying ad campaign but every time I hear “[stupid tagline]” I know exactly the brand!
  • I think it’s rather brilliant. Especially the recent ones. Even if annoying.
  • While I think his repetition could become counterproductive at some point, I admire the fact that even while people have negative feelings about him, they continue to spread it by expressing how they feel about it.
  • He is the reason I got Netflix… and PURPOSELY bought a [Brand Name] somewhere else. (Negative and positive comment. This person still bought the brand name, so the campaign helped the overall global brand awareness, yes? Even if this person didn’t shop at his store.)

I didn’t intentionally set out to do a market survey, just to release my pent-up aggravation while looking for solidarity from my community. I got it, for the most part…but it got me thinking about negative personal branding. Is this guy a genius? Or is he buying into an old, played-out 80’s marketing model that stresses to make the public remember the product/brand, regardless of the message. If you can evoke emotion, that emotional reaction is tied to the product/brand. That said, is it better to attach a negative emotion to your personal brand than to elicit no emotional reaction at all?

I have to think that an educated consumer, when it comes time to buy a high-ticket product, is going to research the company they plan to buy from. And a negative brand campaign is going to be remembered for what it is/was. An educated consumer will not buy from a company that doesn’t match on matters of personal beliefs and ethos, right?

But there is a percentage of people who will connect with this audacious campaign. Probably the same group that thinks “Dumb and Dumber” is funny. (And, sadly, that’s a hefty percentage of the population.)

Polarizing messages that evoke emotion and massive conviction when it comes to agreement/disagreement are going to resonate far more than any well-crafted, flowery message of features and benefits. So, as much as it tortures me to say it, he’s probably doing something right.

My self-righteousness exhausts me.  I’ll just continue to change the channel. As long as my favorite broadcast media outlets understand that they are losing listeners or viewers every time these ads run, I feel I have done something good here.

And, I will still never buy his product from him. So, there’s that, you brilliant, annoying, undoubtedly rich narcissist.