There is clever marketing and there is good marketing. Seldom are they the same thing. Case in point is the idiot ad team at Verizon. They have a very powerful brand with the "Can You Hear Me Now" guy. That has been a brilliant branding strategy that has evolved for several years. I have been caught many times repeating their tag line in normal conversation, with smiles from those who hear it, all of us knowing that we are participating in a social movement driven by an ad.
BUT...and this is a very big BUT. What is Verizon's ad agency thinking with their other ads that literally destroy and attack their own brand?
Father figure, a rather dorky looking guy, reaches in and turns off the hot water in his daughters shower. "Got to save money" he says.
Then drops his daughter off for school two miles away. "Got to save money" he says.
At dinner, turns off the lights and has the family eating in the dark. "Got to save money" he says.
At this point, what is your opinion about this man's decision making process? Do you relate to it? Do you aspire to be like him? Are you impressed by his focus on reducing costs in a tough economy?
I don't think so. I find the man insensitive, out of touch, slightly odd, and clearly uncaring about the needs of his family over money.
Then he announces that he has made the brilliant decision to go with Verizon to cut costs. BTW, he makes the announcement in the dark at the dinner table.
He flips on the light, there is the "Can You Hear Me Know" guy with The Network standing by their table. He then flips off the light and plunges the family back into darkness to eat their meal.
What Verizon has done is to associate their strongest brand with an individual who demonstrates a lack of good judgment, and has done it in such a way that when you begin to think about purchasing a Verizon account, you will be compared to this individual.
The unintended fall out of clever marketing is often to confuse the brand for the sake of cleverness. In this case, it literally achieves the opposite effect of the desired outcome. I am less likely to become a customer because of an ad.
Someone please stop these clever ad people from destroying a wonderful brand.