New boss to GM agencies: no cash for clunkers!

In Ad Creative, Agency Biz on July 26, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Once again, the ad copywriter in me is perplexed. Yes, I believe there are far better ways to trigger behavior-influencing emotions than by simply listing product features. Still, one line in a recent Ad Age article made me laugh.

The article dealt with the trepidation GM agencies are feeling as they await the final verdict on their work and  futures after early criticism from new company Vice Chairman and marketing head  Bob Lutz. Someone familiar with his so called “old school” point of view issued an ominous warning.

“He favors beauty shots of products in ads and talk about the vehicle’s differentiating features,” the former associate said.

Oh, no. Not differentiating features. Anything but that!

Don’t get me wrong. Of course it’s all in how you say and show them. But the fact is, differentiation is the only meaningful way to position your product as more appealing than a competitor’s. Take the currently topical Mac vs. PC computer ad wars.

As Justin Long’s “I’m a Mac” character points out, the differentiating features of an Apple computer include intuitive operation, a virus-resistant operating system, and yes, the implied coolness of its loyalists. In the “Laptop Hunter” ads unleashed by Microsoft in response, the most obvious differentiating feature of PCs vs. Macs is…lower price.

Two very different campaigns, but messages built around differentiating features, delivered in interesting ways. So forgive that old dinosaur Mr. Lutz for his insistence on resorting to such a tactic. Now, about his fondness for “beauty shots” of the product; is that guy crazy or what?


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