Evocative Can Sometimes Squash Didactic
Our clients want to say everything about their product, and I understand why. There is so much to say! But there is a limited capacity on the part of the hearer. And the truth is that hearers only hear what serves their purposes.
However: people listen if you entertain them.
I could try to analyze why this simple commercial for Tuborg Squash is so mesmerizing. There is exactly one word of dialogue, and it comes at the end of the spot. It’s not even the full name of the product. The spot reminds me of a 70s European esthetic, with sleek (orange) décor, the innocent-looking actor in his turtleneck and blazer all bathed in orange lighting. The organ soundtrack completes the picture.
What makes the Tuborg Squash commercial so entertaining? Is it the shrug of the actor’s shoulders and the raised eyebrow? Those actions call to mind the understated ways of friends from Denmark. Is it the retro-fresh look and feel? The crux of the commercial’s appeal is this actor who seems humble and eager to impress, but mostly humble.
Tuborg Squash, which is not a complex product and available only in Denmark, has a long history of pulling in its target audience with funny commercials. A couple of Danish comedians had a long run of such commercials.
Here’s my Tuborg Squash story interpretation: I’ll be retro/hip and whimsical if I drink this soda. The simplicity of the message has broken through the clutter and made me want to buy it. Sadly, again, not available in the U.S.
But, (Ahem), Complexity!
One of our clients is eager to help their massive global brain trust break out of their siloed existences to innovate more freely. Our role is to help develop the stories behind employees connecting their collective imaginations. Another client helps their medical research customers move into clinical trials much more quickly. Both of these clients have complicated stories to tell. How can they Tuborg Squash their offerings?
Presumably, the turtle-necked actor and the sleek orange Danish set are all available for hire somewhere. But the first key is deciding on the single essential that must be told and then rigorously telling the story of that one thing. This key requires killing the extraneous tangents and “good-to-knows.” This process takes courage, especially in any hierarchical human setting (for instance, a corporation) where second-guessing from colleagues and higher-ups makes a person want to play it safe.
The second key is to think just as rigorously about finding a way to tell the story that is so evocative that it pulls in the target audience. “Evocative” may be the keyword. Because though your didactic self wants to say everything, you cannot, lest your audience walks away. But you can use words and images that evoke their story and the emotion you desire around your main message.
Advertising agencies often want medical device firms as clients, right up until they see how complicated those medical device messages are. That’s precisely the point where collaboration turns into compromise. And that is a shame because the ad agency’s capacity to re-imagine a message so that it will connect with people who don’t give a whit about your product is precisely the brief for your complex message. Not that the sales of implanted medical devices or research software should target consumers. But it is fair to say that even busy researchers, scientists, engineers, and clinicians can be delighted by an unexpected story or a humble, slightly retro hero.
See other Tuborq Squash spots at Little Black Book