I hate traffic. I hate traffic more than almost anything. I say almost, because I’m sure there are 2 or 3 things that I would sell my soul to be rid of before traffic, but it’s up there.

My only saving grace is singing along like a moron to my favourite CDs (Kings of Leon, Diana Krall), whatever the latest Top 40 pop-crap is playing, and getting to some really great radio ads. Yes, I am one of the 13 or 14 people who actually listen to the ads, and lately I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a few of them.

BMW has a couple of light-hearted ones about their Pre-Owned cars and how the uninitiated can’t tell the difference between a used and a new bimmer. The latest has a girl and guy on a first date and she doesn’t understand what pre-owned means, even after several attempts by the guy, so when she asks where they’re going for dinner he mutters under his breath “Probably somewhere fast,”. Funny. I actually laughed out loud the first time I heard it and still chuckle over it.

On the serious side, OnStar has got some really powerful spots that clearly outline the reliability of the service versus your cell phone. The one I heard this morning had a 7 year old boy push the OnStar button because his mother, who was driving, kept closing her eyes and was driving erratically. The operator directed police to the car and one can only assume it all ended well, but for those of us with kids, hearing that little boy in such a drastic situation really shook me. But then my inner cynic pipes up and I think, “Was that a re-enactment? I think they said it was audio from an actual call, but there’s probably a loop hole somewhere… Damn! Was I just duped?”

That last part is the sad part – where we, as a society, are so bombarded with so-called Reality TV and sensationalized news stories that we are programmed to automatically discount anything that sounds legitimate because it’s probably some marketing ploy.

That sucks on two levels:

  1. That marketing and advertising cannot be trusted.
  2. That I am a marketing and advertising professional.

Crap.

So I start to think about what I do trust from a marketing/advertising perspective and how I’m either contributing to increasing trust from consumers or detracting from it. Are my messages focused on helping people or are they focused on extolling the virtues of extra leg room and a DVD-based nav system? Am I being true to my customers or to my ROI?

In his book “The End of Marketing as We Know It”, Sergio Zyman suggests, and wisely so, not undertaking a campaign if you cannot forecast a positive financial ROI from it. But what about those intangibles that we marketers also have to deal with? How can you forecast the ROI from word of mouth advertising or a worldwide rave? How can you confidently pre-quantify the increase of sales attributed to your $200 video that gets viewed 300,000 times on YouTube? You can’t.

Somebody will chime in and talk about viral this or social that and tracking codes and all that is fine and dandy, but AFTER the campaign has started. Where do you go when you’re planning the campaign? How do you budget for it? What do you say to the guy who signs the checks when he asks what he’s going to get from it? How do you know you’re not about to blow a wad? If you’re good at what you do and you agree with what I’ve written above, the answer is easy. The answer is trust. Trust that the campaign you are planning is actually focused on your customer’s success/happiness/health/finances/family/security/future and not that your product now comes in a green box with a prize inside.

This leads me back to my inner cynic and the OnStar ad. Whether it was scripted, re-enacted or an actual excerpt from an emergency call is a moot point because it caused me to react to a situation I could relate to. It resonated in me. It spoke to solving a problem I thankfully don’t have yet, but could at any time by way of bullshit luck. Will it ultimately influence my next car purchase? Perhaps. Did I go online to see what models come with OnStar? Yes. Am I writing about it now? Will this blog get read and passed around and linked to? I hope so. I trust that it might. And I find that I trust the benefits outlined in the OnStar ad as genuine benefits that could help me.

What do your ads say to your customers? And what did those words cost you to say? Was the copy/media/reach worth the price?

Know how you can tell? If you have gained the trust of your customers, the guy signing the checks will know.

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