The Magnificent Geese – idea ping-pong between startups and giant organisations

Very-very rarely, but it does happen that I want to watch something so bad that even 4 advertising block per hour can’t stop me from it. Thanks to my Drag Race addiction and its seventh season not being available on Netflix, I did watch a few ads endlessly.* (On a sidenote, whatever is happening with more sophisticated targeting online? I highly doubt that showing the same ad half a dozen times over 30 minutes gets positive responses.)

Two of these got me thinking. The Magnificent Geese ad by Verizon I have to admit made me smile every time. In my conscientious brain, I’m aware that wildlife does suffer from what we do with the environment. Moreover, after a quick dive into Google you’ll find that their fees seem to be one of the highest on the US market and would you actually want to stream whole movies, you’d end up practically broke. So two black points for lack of reality check.

And two red points as well. The first, building the campaign around one strong claim: “our mobile net is the fastest”. In my now decade of experience this is the hardest to get clients to be comfortable and happy with. There is always one more thing, which is understandable on the human level as well as looking at declining or really small marketing budgets. However, in communication more is almost never better. You can create powerful images and metaphors for one message but will immediately start to crumble and lose attention if you try to cram everything in there. (Or you end up with disasters of taglines like Cheerios’ “what really matters most, the goodness of oats and the people we love”. I mean, really? It’s not only grammatically incorrect, but inevitable to raise eyebrows with suggesting we should love our daily cereal as much as our family members.)

The second red point is deserved for showing that with basically no budget you can get your point across and entertain as well. The ad consists of some stock imagery of geese, clever voice-over and a few great tunes. Nothing that a startup can’t accomplish with a bit of hard work and if they are aware of the one thing they really want to get across to the target audience.

The other advertising that picked my interest is the US Postal Service. They are similarly focused on one goal, getting people trust the post again versus getting clients to sign back into the folds. However instead of drawing lessons that startups may use to their advantage, the interesting aspect of the ad is how startup spirit seemed to have inspired its approach.

“Watch us deliver” is a clever choice of slogan and one that is deeply rooted in the shift around communication, fuelled by the transparency and connectedness that comes with the internet. Delivering on your promises is the most powerful thing to do really, more effective than million dollar advertising budgets or brainstorming clever catchphrases. This is why the first few hundred customers to a startup are so important and why their early adopters and evangelists became paramount to success. A whole generation of entrepreneurs growing up with lean, UX and customer development shifts the culture of entire economies. To me, when the postal service, a major player of nationwide infrastructure adopts a strategy of show and tell and invites its customers to only belive what they see, is a sign of this shift.

*Disclaimer: I am from, live and work in Europe and therefore I am judging from a very different cultural context, had no personal experience with either brand and looking at the ads with an objective eye, analysing goals, messaging and delivery. 

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