Live from Insert Media Day: Make a Big Bang

Rye Brook, NY–In the luncheon session of the Direct Marketing Association’s Insert Day here on Sept. 9, advertising executive Linda Kaplan-Thaler, CEO/chief creative officer for The Kaplan Thaler Group, may not have offered any insert- or catalog-specific ideas to attendees. But she presented some general concepts about getting consumers’ attention in advertising.

Kaplan-Thaler was on hand to promote her new book, “Bang! Getting Your Message Heard in a Noisy World.” And she reeled off some concepts she’s learned over the years that are mainly designed for TV commercials but nevertheless can be applied to any forms of advertising.

In suggesting that marketers create a “big bang,” Kaplan-Thaler said that such attention-getting promotions can be totally illogical, disruptive, polarizing, or simple. Starbucks and Perrier, for instance, were illogical in charging a lot for products that consumers were used to pay little if anything for. The movie “The Passion of the Christ” was polarizing, because director Mel Gibson was candid in interviews that his movie would be offensive to many—effectively building a bigger audience for the film.

Kaplan-Thaler went on to toss out some other often irreverent themes that marketers should consider to get a rise out of consumers:

* Ignore the rules. Recently a Brooklyn, NY, ice cream shop introduced onion/broccoli-flavored ice cream. Disgusting? Perhaps–but the gimmick got the shop a lot of press and store traffic.

* Lose the fear. The Chicago Bulls basketball team fielded a team of overweight, homely men as the company’s cheerleaders in a gimmick that helped build attendance for a team now six years removed from Michael Jordan.

* Shrink to success. Kaplan-Thaler’s Herbal Essence shampoo commercial in which a woman appeared to be having an orgasm while washing her hair didn’t cost much, but it helped propel the struggling brand to number two in the market.

* Assume the worst and fall in love with plan B. One of the most famous scenes from the movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” according to Kaplan-Thaler, came about as a plan B by director Steven Spielberg.