It’s always interesting to look at or listen to advertisements and try to dissect the positioning. What is the core brand value? What’s the proposition in this specific advertisement? How well has the idea been executed? Ads are never boring; they are like an intellectual challenge in-between normal TV or radio programmes.
Current Campaign: There is a TV ad campaign running at the moment from the Road Safety Authority ‘Put yourself in their shoes’. Have you seen it? The basic idea is that as a motorist, you should think about pedestrians, when walking you should think about motorists etc. Now, for sure, road safety is an important topic. Being in the business of saving people’s lives provides strong moral authority. But the execution? What does ‘Put yourself in their shoes’ actually mean in terms of changed behaviour?
Internal Communications: It reminded me of an assignment with one large American multi-national when I was asked to review their internal communications systems. By my count they had 14 separate change/performance improvement initiatives underway. Each of these separate programmes had ‘larger than life’ labels e.g. Pedal to the Metal, 20/20 Vision etc. My take on this is crystal clear. No organization can fight a battle on 14 fronts simultaneously. You simply confuse the audience. Their employees were like ducks in a thunderstorm; they could hear the noise, but hadn’t a clue what was happening.
Key Battles: As a manager are you really helping your organization by launching this number of initiatives? I don’t think so. In the communications arena, less is definitely more. Adding another communications topic to an over-packed agenda, is like throwing an anvil to a drowning man. The internal communications rules are simple. Choose your targets. Then execute relentlessly. Otherwise, like that R.S.A. advertisement, no one will know what you actually want them to do.
PS: Are you looking after your Mother? Here’s a lighter take on miscommunication…
Four brothers left home for college, and became successful doctors and lawyers. One evening, they chatted after having dinner together. They discussed the 95th birthday gifts they were able to give their elderly mother who’d moved to Florida. The first said, “You know I had a big house built for Mama.” The second said, “And I had a large theater built in the house.” The third said, “And I had my Mercedes dealer deliver an SL600 to her.” The fourth said, “You know how Mama loved reading the Bible and you know she can’t read anymore because she can’t see very well. I met this preacher who told me about a parrot who could recite the entire Bible. It took ten preachers almost 8 years to teach him. I had to pledge to contribute $50,000 a year for five years to the church, but it was worth it. Mama only has to name the chapter and verse, and the parrot will recite it.” The other brothers were impressed.
After the celebration the mother sent out ‘Thank You’ notes. She wrote: “Milton, the house you built is so huge that I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house. Thanks anyway.” “Michael, you gave me an expensive theater with Dolby sound and it can hold 50 people, but all of my friends are dead, I’ve lost my hearing, and I’m nearly blind. I’ll never use it. Thank you for the gesture just the same.” “Marvin, I am too old to travel. I stay home; I have my groceries delivered, so I never use the Mercedes. The thought was good. Thanks” “Dearest Melvin, you were the only son to have the good sense to give a little thought to your gift. The chicken was delicious. Thank you so much.” Love, Mama
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