June 18th, 2009
Now more than ever, consumers want to feel good about the things they do and buy. I’ve written a couple posts about the phenomenon on aspirational purchasing and making something groovy out of pretty much nothing and, recently, I saw the most fascinating example of turning a cruddy experience into something swanky.
Witness: Cash4Gold. You have to be living under a rock to not have seen their commercials, but just to be sure… Here’s the company’s weird Super Bowl ad, in which Ed McMahon and MC Hammer talk while a disembodied hand holds money (“Call toll free now!”):
And here is one of Cash4Gold’s standard ads (“Turn your unwanted or broken jewelry into cold hard cash!“)
Do these ads make you feel like a sharp cookie, or like you’re about to lose your house and have already checked the couch for loose change? Given McMahon’s humiliating mortage disaster and Hammer’s personal woes, Cash4Gold comes across as a last resort for the truly pitiful and desperate. Hardly something I’d be sharing over dinner with my girlfriends.
Contrast this to OutofYourLife.com. It’s the exact same concept, but take a look at the company’s television ad:
I can identify with the woman in the ad because, unlike Ed McMahon, she’s “like me” (or like the woman I’d like to be) – attractive, secure and, of course, smart for unloading jewels from her past relationships. And fyi, all of these ex boyfriends and their golden effluvia don’t mean she’s a loser: it means she dumped them and now has the perfect man, whom she (you), of course, deserve(s).
Study the ad’s details: the way the script weaves in the personal “stories” related to each piece, the sexy voiceover, the website’s design – even the box you use to ship off your jewels. Everything about the ad is intended to reinforce that you are a sexy, beautiful, enticing, clever woman and that this is what such a person does.
So virtually the same product, but with a message that permits the customer to create a transformational, positive story out of the fact that she’s got to hock her own jewelry to pay the rent.
This is an unusually overt example of advertising’s ability to shape not only a message, but an entire experience… even the kind of person you are for being a customer. ‘Love it!
What other self-worth-threatening activities could be transformed in the same manner? How about selling your car, or buying a used car? Ditto for “gently-worn” clothing. Foreclosure auction advertising?
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