The Death of Hype

The Death of Hype

Fourteen weeks ago I wrote you a memo that said, “The bad news is that it's going to get harder and harder to make ads work. The good news is that advertisers are going to have to become a lot more honest. The generation that will soon control the world is wise to all the old tricks.”

The following week I wrote, “America is moving into an era of authenticity in which it will become harder than ever to win new customers through advertising alone. To thrive and grow, businesses are going to have to begin delivering what they promise in their ads. Claims of 'huge selection,' 'friendly service,' and 'low price' mean nothing when you have a friend who is telling you otherwise. Word-of-mouth has grown into a muscular beast called Interconnectivity and it moves with lightning speed. Cell phones and email are rewriting the rules of commerce. Online chat-rooms, BLOGS, and instant messaging are insuring that – whether good or bad – the word gets out. What are you doing to insure that the word on your company is good?”

Four weeks ago I told you how the values of the emerging generation differ from those of their Baby Boomer parents: “Boomers rejected conformity and their attitude swept the land, changing even the mores of their fuddy-duddy parents. But today's teens are rejecting pretense. Born into a world of hype, their internal BS-meters are highly sensitive and blisteringly accurate. Words like 'amazing,' 'astounding,' and 'spectacular' are translated as 'blah,' 'blah,' and 'blah.' Consequently, tried and true selling methods that worked as recently as a year ago are working far less well today. Trust me, I know. The world is again changing stripe and color. We're at another tipping point. Can you feel it?”

Six weeks ago we launched a pair of highly funded, direct-response advertising tests for two different products – a foot cream and a diet supplement – both of which are exceptional. In the first phase of the tests, the ads featured classic, direct-response language: words like “amazing,” “FREE,” and “Call now.” Would you believe that we received not one call from any of the audiences targeted, not even from the older demo that has traditionally responded well to such offers? The following week we toned down the language and the style and received 151 calls from a test-market town of only 300,000 people. Same product, same offer; we simply used different words and a more casual style. I can't let you see or hear the ads because those tests are still underway. But I can let you listen in on a radio campaign that exemplifies the new style I'm describing. Would you like that? 

We just finished the brand essence campaign for what is currently the fastest-growing franchise in US history: One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning. Their brand promise is a simple one, but powerful, and no competitor is likely to match it. If you'd like to hear the ads, visit the Goodies section at WizardAcademyPress.com and look for the entry Radio Examples.

Ciao for Niao,

Roy H. Williams

PS – HAPPY NEWS for Screenwriters and Fiction Writers. Visit wizardacademy.org and take a look at the course description for Screen and Fiction Workshop.