…and I’m back.

inphiltrate.com is back and now running on my friend James’ hosting. ¬†Okay, so I’m sure no one even noticed the site was down…considering it wasn’t even down for that long and whatnot.

Images may still be broken for now.

-Philip

Downtime

My site will be down for a few days sometime in the coming weeks, as I will be moving to one of my friend’s webhosts. He has very graciously offered to let me host my site there for free, which will save me ~$142 on webhosting that I rarely use anyway. I don’t think anyone really visits this page anymore anyway (apart from Twitter links), since most posts are syndicated to Facebook and read there, but I thought I’d put a heads up here just in case.

Advertising Does Not Work on Smart People

Every once in a while, I see a commercial that is just so horribly bad that I just have to wonder what the advertising agency that produced the commercial was thinking. I honestly don’t see how people could ever fall for such terrible product pitches.

With this post, I intend to prove that most of the time, advertising does not work on smart people, and when it does, they are aware of it. The original reason I started writing this was because of a Lowe’s commercial in which a happily married couple severely screws up every form of home repair possible and then goes to Lowe’s and finds some random employee that solves all of their problems. If you’ve seen the commercial, maybe you’ve wondered, as I have, why they painted an entire room bright green before stopping and saying, “Hmm, this is really green. I don’t like this color.”

Many companies try to sell you on their brand/product/service by making it sound like they’re your friends/family. State Farm comes to mind on this (“good neighbor”). The idea is, of course, to get you to form a positive mental relationship with them by making you associate their brand with the positive relationships that already exist in your life. You already know this, though, and that’s why most commercials don’t come right out and say, “we’re your friends!” and instead try to project the image that they’re your friends through other means.

So we’re still faced with the main question: why doesn’t advertising work on smart people? Well, there’s a simple, two part answer:

1) Smart people know that they’re being advertised to.
2) Smart people already know what they want.

If an advertiser wants to appeal to a smart person, they generally have to find other means of identifying with that person’s group. For example, Old Spice recently put out a crap-ton of short YouTube videos replying to people’s Tweets, Facebook statuses, reddit comments, etc, and it was wildly popular among smarter audiences (like reddit). There was even a thread on reddit by someone saying that they were definitely going to purchase Old Spice body wash. Did the advertising work? Yup, and everyone knew damn well that it worked. People on reddit made a conscious choice to purchase Old Spice body wash because of the commercial.

I have done this before as well. Remember Burger King’s Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch commercial featuring Darius Rucker from Hootie & the Blowfish? The one where he was singing a parody of “Big Rock Candy Mountain”? I found that commercial to be so incredible that I went to Burger King and bought a Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch.

Anyone remember Tech TV? I can’t be bothered to verify this through other sources, but Leo Laporte regularly says on his netcasts that Tech TV failed because it couldn’t get advertisers, and the reason for that was because advertisers knew they could not advertise to smart people, which is what Tech TV’s audience was.

Finally, let’s look at a company who is very widely credited for having successful marketing campaigns: Apple. First, who is it that buys Apple’s products? Well, that’s everyone – smart people, average people, and people that have to pull out a calculator to figure out 100 divided by 20. Apple’s advertising is very successful on most people, because Apple succeeds in making their products look cool and technologically superior to their competitors’ products. Smart people don’t care if a product is cool, and they aren’t going to fall for it when Apple says that Macs don’t crash; they fact is, they already want a Mac. They know this beforehand, they know why they want a Mac, and they know why they want a Mac, and it has nothing to do with the commercials. Heck, they might even be resentful about Apple coming off as smug.

I think this is probably because smart people tend to not just take things as they are and may analyze and dissect information regardless of the situation. This is probably why Leo Laporte promotes his advertisers the way he does on his netcast network, which has a pretty intelligent fanbase. Rather than just inserting ads into his shows without any context, he flat out says that they’re ads and will only accept advertisers that he would personally recommend to his friends. When he does an ad on This Week in Tech, it’s pretty much something like, “Hey guys, this product is great, and I personally endorse it.” I think this is a successful way to advertise to smart people, because Leo is a smart guy himself and a lot of people trust his advice.

TL; DR – Ads suck.