I’ve possibly never had so much fun writing an Econsultancy blog post. For an hour or so yesterday, I was listening to ‘old’ in-game radio adverts from the Grand Theft Auto computer games, handily available here.
Whilst they are hilarious, in aping existing companies they also use many of the ad man’s techniques to sell a product.
I’ve tried to succinctly describe these techniques in this post. I hope you enjoy the fake product names and slogans as much as I did, and aren’t put off by the some of the products’ slightly poor taste. Thanks to GTA Wiki, where I grabbed the crazy product images.
‘The Maibatsu Womb: It’s the minivan any man can be proud to drive.’
This slogan says ‘don’t worry, it’s ok’, you can drive this diddy van and you won’t be ridiculed. The greatest marketing campaigns turn something previously uncool (or unknown) into the must-have product.
The smart car is perhaps the real-life counterpart of the Womb.
‘Electolytes extreme sports drink: You may not be an athlete. But you can drink like one.’
Of course, this tagline is making fun of the sports drink phenomenon, but it sums up the methodology well. There are many parts of an athletes performance and lifestyle that are just way out of reach of mortals; however, maybe you can get a bit closer to the professionals by sharing their drink?
Everything from Lucozade to football boots to shower gel can be sold in this way.
‘Eris Running Shoes: Always running. From something.’
Ignore the joke (‘from something’), the ‘always running’ tagline is designed to appeal to those that are, or like the idea of, being fully committed to a pastime or lifestyle.
Playstation 4’s ‘this is for the players’ and Nike’s ‘there is no finish line’ are both great real life examples of this brand association with commitment.
‘Maibatsu Monstrosity: ‘Mine is bigger’’
This is another Maibatsu, an off-road vehicle that seats 12. Of course, it’s ridiculous, but the message is ‘you could have the biggest’. Size here isn’t necessarily essential, it’s just the notion of outcompeting your neighbour.
So called ‘Chelsea tractors’ are bought for their size, and a lot of car manufacturers have released larger models (e.g. Porsche Cayenne) to capitalise on this market.
‘Pets overnight: Would you like a kitten? Have one delivered. In a box.’
Speed and convenience are the best part of ecommerce’s success. Whimsy and impulse buys are now possible from your sofa. That’s what’s so appealing about Pets Overnight. Order now, get a kitten by tomorrow.
Shutl and similar services have since changed the definition of now to mean within the next few hours, and of course, click and collect, responsible for 43% of Argos’ sales relies on the desire for convenience.
‘1-800-I-SUE-YOU. Is your job affecting your health and taking time away from watching wrestling? There’s an easy solution: sue your boss.’
Your potential customers are trapped and it’s only your product that can release them from servitude. Perhaps an extreme method of persuasion, but all adverts work on the premise of escape, however brief, from reality.
It may be escape from cold weather, escape from bad skin, or escape from your nightmare boss.
‘Ammu-Nation Apocalypse Kit: for doomsday preppers.’
By producing an Apocalypse Kit, Ammu-Nation doesn’t really believe it’s on the cards. But if people fear something already, why not capitalise on it? There are shades of grey here as to what’s acceptable, but the cosmetic sector uses this tactic all the time. Wrinkles? Prevent them.
Wrinkles aren’t the apocalypse, they’re guaranteed for a start, but scaring potential wrinklers is subtly part of any advert for moisturiser.
‘CNT : Where America vegetates.’
CNT is a fake TV broadcaster on GTA. In advertising the station as a place the whole of America can go to vegetate, they let the (fictional) listener know they’ll be in the safe company with the rest of the nation.
If the whole of America’s there, it must be a good station.
‘Vangelico jewellery: Replacing Charm Since 1852.’
Ok, ignore the joke in this tagline, the real selling point is the longevity of the brand. Vangelico has been doing it since 1852! If you can convince buyers of your brands heritage, they’re bound to trust you and your products.
John Lewis’ advertising often plays on the brand’s heritage.
‘Join the military: Be a man. Today.’
This almost-real ad for the military plays on a demographic that is young, looking for a place in the world and perhaps needs to feel like they are somebody or that they give something back.
All it takes is enough of a needle to get a rise. ‘Be a man’, with the added urgency of ‘today’. Cologne’s often work on this idea of masculinity.
‘Renegade Cologne: For the man who wants to reek of masculinity. Nobody tells a RENEGADE what to do.’
Speaking of colognes, this cologne will surely turn you from a timid male into a man not to be messed with. It’s another variety of that transformative product, changing the customer’s life for the better.
‘The Dormatron. Using new technology called Biorhythmic Subconscious Gymnastics, The Dormatron exercises you while you sleep.’
The Dormatron is plainly pseudoscience, but again, this is still in use, cosmetics again, I’m looking at you. And yoghurts, too. It’s not necessarily pseudo science to talk about L. Casei Immunitas, but most buyers don’t know it’s Lactobacillus, they are simply impressed at how technical it sounds. Blind them with technical information.