The Tiger On My Neighbor’s Car

By BKV in Media Strategy on September 23rd, 2010

Unless you have a satellite radio, TiVo or both, you probably succumb to a barrage of advertisements on a daily basis. The messages in these advertisements are getting progressively louder because they are competing with all of the existing noise in our lives. Marketers are removing the guesswork and spelling out every detail to ensure consumers receive their message.

We, as consumers, are used to being bludgeoned by flashy, elaborate and repetitive product promotions. Marketers know they have one chance to hit a home run, so they pack the strongest message into the smallest amount of time they have. You've likely seen many of these strong messages. They include cute puppies promoting tissue paper, scantily-clad women spraying cologne, and dogs performing flips to get us excited about air freshener. All of these flashy songs, bright images, elaborate story lines and humorous situations are meant to grab our divided attention every day.

tigerPerhaps being subtle is more effective. I recently noticed multiple cars slowing down near my house this weekend. In fact, a minivan stopped altogether, and I watched as the driver pointed out the window. He directed the attention of his two children to the hood of my neighbor's Ford Bronco. It had a seven-foot tiger sitting on top of it. It was a stuffed tiger, but still a pretty uncommon sight in suburbia.

As the day unfolded, I watched more cars stop to view the large stuffed animal and wondered what made people take time out of their Saturday to pause and laugh at my neighbor's Missouri Tiger pride and shameless promotion.

There wasn't a message on the tiger or vehicle. How did my neighbor know his message would be received? What if viewers were unfamiliar with sports (or Missouri Tiger football for that matter)? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that he wanted to share his pride with the people who shared a common interest - THE FANS. The display needed no explanation. His target audience - THE FANS - received the message loud and clear. Truman the Tiger didn't have to say a word.

Sometimes an audience likes to figure things out on their own. Subtle marketing can be the most effective way to get your point across. In lieu of getting beaten over the head with a loud noise, silent, highly-targeted marketing allows us to quietly draw our own conclusions and feel understood. Now if I could only find an eight-foot tall stuffed Jayhawk to place on my Pathfinder...