Advertising and humour often go hand-in-hand. But do funny ads actually work?
As you may be aware, I am a fan of comedy. I just love being humoured; by comedians, sitcoms, friends and sometimes, ads too.
For a copywriter like me, humour offers a much-needed respite from all the mind-numbing chaos.
So here’s a recent ad from Maxis that I thought was really funny. Yes, I am amazed at myself for showcasing a Maxis ad positively, considering how I whacked them the last time. But credit is due where it is due I suppose.
But wait. On with the ad first…
Now, if you are like me – someone who absolutely hates online videos that go into buffering mode – you may have found the ad funny. But did the ad compel any kind of action from you?
Again, if you are like me – someone who can be a real lazy arse sometimes – you didn’t take any action. As in call Maxis, look for more info online or run to the nearest Maxis outlet to register for this wonderful fibre internet.
This is the problem with funny ads. While they may steal your attention and be memorable; it doesn’t guarantee a response from consumers.
And don’t for a moment think being funny improves brand awareness either.
People usually only remember that a particular ad is funny, but often struggle to remember the brand or product. Think about your favourite funny ad; do you remember the product?
Ace Metrix – a television and video analytics agency – studied funny ads in the US for over a year and drew the following conclusions:
Funny ads were memorable and appealing, but were less likely to increase desire or purchase intent
Humour in ads work better when it is used as a supplement rather than a replacement
When consumers are not compelled to take action after seeing your ad, it usually means money down the drain.
So be funny at your own peril, or risk becoming a joke.
I must admit it; I was rather cheesed of with Maxis to start with. And then they go and air that stupid ad claiming they put customer service first. Of course, I sharpened my pencil and gave them a piece of my mind lah.
Maybe I was slightly rash and less eloquent in that post. And since this is a blog about marketing communications; let’s see what really went wrong with Maxis in that perspective.
Here’s what my favourite branding blog – Brand Strategy Insider – had to say about Brand Arrogance.
“Consumers don’t value brands; they value the idea the brand represents to them. This idea will always be worth more than the product, or the actual bricks and mortar of the business enterprise. When marketers behave arrogantly, the value of the idea people care about is instantly diminished. And once this happens, the road to redemption is long, difficult and expensive”
Simply put, you like a brand not because the logo is red or that the product is great. Consumers actually value the personality that the brand projects more than anything else.
It makes sense because telcos offer essentially similar products and services. But what made you choose Maxis or Digi or Celcom? Think about it.
It’s like making new friends. You only click with certain types of people; as you do with brands. But once a ‘friend’ crosses you, it becomes really hard to be good friends again. There is just something intrinsic about this process that science can’t explain.
Once you screw up with a customer (especially a loyal one), you usually have to work really hard to win him over again. And most times, the defected customer will never return.
There’s a classic Direct Marketing adage that goes like this:
It’s more profitable to retain a loyal customer, than to attract new customers
For all the advertising and promotions brands conduct to conquest new customers, why not sincerely care for existing customers instead? Those who are already customers may even advocate the brand to their friends and family for free.
And we all know nothing beats the power of word-of-mouth communication.
Clearly Maxis does not see it that way. I guess we are nothing but Ringgit signs that make their cash registers go Ka-Ching!
I know bull crap when I see one, especially when it comes in the form of advertising. And even more so when it comes from a brand that treated me like crap for being their customer for 12 years.
Over-promising has become the bane of the ad industry. But it’s not something new, it has been going on for ages; possibly even when the first line of copy was written or when the first TVC was aired.
The worst part is that we consumers have come accustomed to over-the-top or exaggerated claims. A case in point…
Another one, because this is fun…
So when I saw the new Maxis TV commercial that aired recently, I almost choked on my own saliva. For such a smug, pompous and arrogant brand, this ad is totally not reflective of their actual personality.
If Maxis had really “put customers first” they need not spend millions creating and airing this ad. Their customers will already know and appreciate their customer service efforts. It is because they actually take customers for granted is why such an ad with a ludicrous claim is needed.
I did it. Yes sir I terminated it. I maxed out my relationship with Maxis and am now a follower of the yellow man. But something unexpected happened at the Maxis centre today.
I was ready for a tedious, long and unpleasant process of terminating my broadband account. In fact, I was just waiting to be ticked off by someone so I could vent my anger and give them a piece of my mind in eloquent ‘French’. I walked into the Maxis centre ready for war almost. Hoping, just hoping, they would make the mistake of asking me:
Why are you terminating your account sir?
But it did not come to be. Instead, I was treated better at Maxis centre today than I ever was as a customer. I did not need to take a number nor stand in line nor be subject to any scrutiny. I kid you not. There were like at least 20 or so people who were waiting, but I was ushered straight to an empty counter as if I was a VIP.
I was out of there in roughly five minutes! I got out so fast, that some of the waiting customers gave me dagger like looks for somehow obtaining special treatment. It felt as if Maxis were gleefully processing termination of accounts because they had way too many customers.
Actually, I am glad for the pleasant experience I had at the Maxis centre. It was surely a refreshing change than when I had to wait for more than an hour to apply for supplementary lines.
But something’s not right you know. Shouldn’t they treat customers the way they treated me today? Hey… I’m not complaining. What’s done is done. It’s just strange that my best experience with Maxis is when I went to terminate my account. Unbelievable!
The thing is I am angry. Yes, angry. Not cheesed-off, neither dissatisfied nor unhappy. I am mad. I created this blog so that I can have an opinion. And have a freaking opinion I will
You know, I wanted this post to be a meaningful, heartfelt review of my online escapades of 2010. About how I made a humble yet determined start to create an online presence, which culminated in this site being listed on Page 1 on Google if you’d searched “Copywriter Malaysia”; for a very brief period that is. But screw that and let’s get down to business.
In my 12 years in the advertising industry, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. And I’ve also seen many more committed by brands, marketers, agencies, advertisers and the like. And among all the mistakes; the biggest most unforgivable sin that a brand or company can make is taking their customers for granted.
And I have recently been given the middle finger by a company/brand that I’ve been loyal to for 12 years.
Ask any direct marketer worth his salt and he will tell you that once you become a customer, you should immediately be put into a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programme. And most of the time, it doesn’t take much to keep a customer. A hello once in a while, maybe a small discount for purchase and perhaps a free gift or two; if budget permits of course.
The point is you want to keep your existing customer happy or at least contented. Just to let them know that they are valued for the business they’ve been diligently giving to you. And as long as customers know they enjoy just that little bit more than non-customers, everything should be well and good.
So for 12 years I was a happy camper with Maxis. No real issues or crisis-like situations, I simply got what I paid for. And then one day, I stumbled upon the fact that I was paying RM30 more than new customers for their broadband service. I was surprised and honestly thought that this was a small problem that their customer service will easily fix. Boy was I wrong!
Here’s the gist of the conversation:
Me: Hello, Maxis Customer Service?
MCS: Yes sir, how may I help you?
Me: Well, I’m just wondering why I’m paying the old price of RM98 for 3GB broadband whereas new customers only pay RM68?
MCS: Well, you must be still under contract sir?
Me: No, my contract ended just last month. Correct?
MCS: Yes, sir your contract has ended.
Me: So why am I not enjoying the reduced price of RM68 for the 3GB package?
MCS: Well sir, you purchased the package for RM98, so you will have to pay that amount indefinitely.
Me: What?! Nonsense! Are you telling me that new customers can enjoy the new price but old customers still have to pay the higher price?
MCS: Yes sir.
Me: So what do I have to do to enjoy the RM68 price?
MCS: Well you have to terminate your current broadband account and return the modem. Then register again to enjoy the RM68 price.
Me: (not believing this shit!) Errr… you mean I have to cancel and register for the same thing over again?
MCS: Yes sir, that’s the only way.
Me: Errrr… (WTF!… lost for words, hang up)
If the price of a good or service goes up, I don’t see any company saying “oh, you can still pay the old, prior-to-increase price because you have a contract”. They don’t just make the new customers pay the increased price while the existing customers pay the old, under-contract price. But when the price is reduced, every effort is undertaken to make it difficult for old customers to enjoy the new reduced rates.
We don’t even have to look at this from a marketing, CRM or customer service point of view here; just see it based on freaking common sense! Some of my friends claim that I am a bit of a diva here. They say I should just go to the Maxis Centre and re-register to enjoy the reduced rates. But why the fuck should I? I don’t want to go along with the idiotic process of re-registering for the same bloddy thing because that would make me a bigger idiot.
Maxis is seriously deluded and very arrogant to think that I would succumb to their plain bullying. I think I am going to the Maxis Centre after all, but the re-registering will certainly happen someplace else. Yes, I think I’m going to take my business (Broadband + Principal Mobile Line + 2 Supplementary Lines) elsewhere because loyalty obviously doesn’t matter.
P.S. I gave Maxis close to 3 months to explain themselves, during which time I’ve been letting my RM30 a month go down the drain. After contacting their Customer Service, I recently raised the issue in their Facebook Page (with my name and account number). I have since received no acknowledgement whatsoever… not even a squeak.