September 30, 2009 Jason

What does your message really say?

Being brand new to the advertising world, I might be a bit hypersensitive to marketing messages that I encounter every day.  The messages that I enjoy the most are often the ones that are hidden the best.  Watch for the AT&T bars in this commercial – you can see them in just about every shot.

The AT&T folks went to a lot of trouble to include this hidden message; it’s cute, it’s clever, and for me – it’s effective.  I might be a geek, but I feel like a member of a secret society for noticing this subtle detail.  The message that I get from AT&T is that they think that I am smart enough to pick up on the little details, and I thank them for that.  My wife doesn’t – she’s not so happy that we have to sit through every AT&T commercial now.

The opposite of this strategy was recently demonstrated here in Canada when the folks at Health Canada decided to send body bags as part of the flu preparedness kits.  These kits were sent along with hand sanitizers and face masks to reserves to prepare for the (apparently pandemic) H1N1 virus.  Not particularly subtle.

Now the newsfeeds are rife with the back-pedaling of the Canadian government, claiming that this was not the message that they were trying to send.  Maybe they were just trying to save shipping costs.

The old saying of “actions speaking louder than words” seems to hold true here.  The best advice I can give is to think about the implications of what you are saying or doing.  How does it reflect on you, your company, and your values?


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