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I have been seeing a commercial on TV lately that features Yankee pitcher CC Sabathia pitching (groan) Bayer aspirin. Sports fans are likely to pay more attention to CC than to some identity-less announcer, so that makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is part of what CC says, that he needs to be free of pain so that he can concentrate, because pitching is “100% mental.” Really, CC? 100%? If that was true, then Stephen Hawking should be the best pitcher in baseball. I’m not trying to poke fun at CC–he seems like a nice guy and athletes are not expected to be fabulous public speakers any more than I should be expected to throw a curve ball. No, I wonder what the marketers at Bayer are doing.

Think about how this commercial probably unfolded. It’s unlikely that the folks at Bayer wrote out a script and asked CC to read it. Instead, I suspect that they interviewed CC for a while and then pieced together what he said off the cuff to put the interview together. And this is one of the quotes they actually liked the best.

Given the absurdity of the quote on the face of it, why would they pick this? I mean, CC said a lot of things, I am sure, and he likes the product. Again, I want to emphasize that I am not belittling CC in any way–I have had a few bad moments on live radio and have had a few misstatements captured on YouTube (and I am paid to talk for a living). But why would Bayer choose this quote?

I believe that it is old-fashioned “get attention” marketing. In mainstream media, your ad needs to stand out. Yes, it will be shown, but will anyone notice it? That’s why you need to get attention and Bayer chose the quotes from CC that they thought would get the most attention. Bayer can’t exaggerate what it says about its products but it loves when someone else does because it just sounds better.

The problem is that digital marketing doesn’t reward “get attention’ marketing–digital requires “pay attention” marketing where you are engaging with customers and noticing what they care about and catering to it. But it doesn’t stop with digital.

People now watch mainstream ads and comment in digital media. I found a few people poking fun at poor CC for his quote. People are paying closer attention than ever to what companies say and they don’t trust companies. They expect companies to bend the truth, which is why it is harder and harder to get attention.

So, how about you? Are you still fighting to get attention for your message? If, instead, you pay attention to what customers are interested in, and you engage with them on those messages, you’ll get their attention anyway, but you might persuade them more than with fatuous claims made by a celebrity.

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Mike Moran

About Mike Moran

Mike Moran has a unique blend of marketing and technology skills that he applies to raise return on investment for large marketing programs. Mike is a former IBM Distinguished Engineer and a senior strategist at Converseon, Revealed Context, and SoloSegment. Mike is the author of three books on digital marketing and is an instructor at Rutgers Business School. He is a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO, a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research, and a Certified Speaking Professional.

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