Bob's Blog

Is marketing a sledgehammer or a velvet glove?

SledgehammerAnswer: both. Regular readers of this blog will know that we tend to use television advertising as still, probably, the most accessed type of marketing activity which serves well to illustrate the subtle differences in approach that companies employ to sell their wares.

Kitchen cleaners

Let’s look at the humble kitchen cleaner – what’s wrong with hot water, bleach and disinfectant, by the way? – and the different way manufacturers approach the market. In the blue corner, we have a shouty bloke called Barry yelling the ‘virtues’ of his product and how it will clean absolutely everything better than anything, and it costs flumpence, or at the very worst, it’s ‘reasonable’. In the red corner, we have something altogether a lot more subtle, which wouldn’t be difficult, let’s face it. Here we find the caring mother with her, typically, daughter. Whilst she ‘cares’ for her daughter and won’t risk her child being exposed to any germs – this product claims to kill 99.9% of all known germs, so which poor sod had to count them? – she also looks as if she could happily moonlight at the Paris fashion week. The red corner approach is very much the velvet glove to shouty bloke’s sledgehammer.

Hammer or glove?

Sledgehammer needs no explaining, but velvet glove deserves a closer look. In this example, the advertiser is setting a scene and inviting the consumer to relate to the people within the advertisement, which is a pretty brave thing to do, given that most of the target audience may not look like they’ve just come off the Paris catwalk, rather that they may be slightly portly, ordinary working people. It doesn’t matter; by using this product, subconsciously, they are that supermodel, and their child is perfect, not the handful of a little horror that it actually is. Clever.

The truth is, both sledgehammer and velvet glove work, and it’s the carefully though out creative behind them that determines just how well. The other truth is, dear reader, is that your author’s wife has tried both of these vaguely-referred to products, but has gone back to hot water, bleach and disinfectant.