At a Higher Platitude

Of course you’ve never fallen for those stupid marketing gimmicks! What are they even thinking when they come up with that buy one get one free offer on that MRT(fancy) fleece sweatshirt, or when Amitabh Bachchan endorses the oil beneath his wig. Of course, Madonna and Britney were genuinely attracted to each other to snog publicly. How about that F1 friend being indispensable to your existence. No way! you know, it’s just a commercial. The featured image for this post, wasn’t it part of the reason you clicked thru? Erm.. not really. Infact more than just once in a blue moon we’re swindled to believe. Don’t trust me? Revisit that credit card bill.

In reality, there are fundamental differences between good gimmicks and the atrocious ones. Obviously.  They say you learn more from failure than success, so here have a look at the plain bad first :

1. Aqua Teen Hunger force bomb scare Wheeee! What fun to hang electronic circuit boards  that look like bombs (that too in Boston, a pretty high-profile city)  for a late night Cartoon Network show. Watch our show or die-subtle. Except that it eneded up in two arrests for placing a hoax device and disorederly conduct.

2. Snapple Popsicle Meltdown Lets create a 35,000 pounds, 25 feet tall popsicle (kiwi-strawberry flavor, fyi) and create a record for World’s Largest Popsicle, some bright intern at Snapple suggested. Wow, sure! Just that they forgot to check the temperature: a fabulous day to go out  80 degrees at New York, Times Square:

3. Veena Malik, one of the more dignified guests on Reality TV, the understated Bigg boss lady was reported missing just days before her new show ‘Veena ka Vivah’.

In only  a couple of days, she was ‘found’, resting in a Juhu hotel. ‘Personal reasons’ she said. Yeah Veena, money is pretty personal.

4. SRK’s questioning at New York airport, i.e: racial treatment just before the release of movie ‘My name is Khan’ which is, by complete coincidence, based on (surprise! surprise!) racial treatment in the US post 9/11. The naïve might argue “It did happen” and the capitalists might say “it worked” but the fact of the matter is it was too lowly to play up.

5. Unreleased iphone 5 prototype went missing in Aug 2011. Where’s the gimmick? you’re so insensitive! Yeah, yeah, did you know that the unreleased iphone 4 prototype had also gone missing before its release.

Does that mean that all marketing gimmicks come from the evil stable of deceit, stupidity and all things vain? Of course not! Here are some brilliant ones:

1. Ragini MMS (the film). Autorickshaws in Mumbai sported ‘Ragini yahan baithi thi’ and ‘Ragini ka MMS dekha kya?’ stickers prior to the release of ‘Ragini MMS’, was simple yet effective!

2. Obay Canada,

What makes it even more interesting is the cause: this was a $2 million by Ontario colleges as rebuttal against parents who had a higher preference for University education compared to college education, and imposed that on their kids. Quite good, don’t you think.

3. Taco Bell put up an ad in the New York Times that read ‘Taco Bell buys Liberty Bell’ which was met by public outcry only to be told that it was an April 1 joke. What is astonishing about this campaign is that it led to an $500,000  increase in revenue that very day, and $600,000 increase on the next day.

These pointers here are a relish of  how gimmick sour goes down on our pallet:

  • Keep it light and creative
  • The crazier, the better-with logical limits (read product attributes)
  • Respect your audience’s intelligence
  • A hard-sell is pungent
  • Execution wins over any other factor, any day!

These gimmicks make marketing colorful and lively.  With everything being assembled in the same Chinese  warehouse, this is perceptive too. Also, marketing gimmicks aren’t protected by the KGB any more,  so as long as we don’t believe that we can bulldoze a young customer with the sheer inertia of this puffery, we’re fine. Let’s not even start to imagine a world where there are no gimmicks, no surprises, just bland sensodyne like stating half truths.

For the scientific lot, there is a math behind these gimmicks –

Tell me now, what’s the diffence between ½ and 2/4 ? No, not naught, its Presentation.



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