Ad Council Wasted

Ad Council Wasted


This ad is artfully done and a pleasure to look at but a waste.

The ad makes several mistakes.  Here are three:

First, the ad assumes rationality.  If the decision to drive or not drive after drinking were based on careful consideration of the pros and cons, this list of reasons not to drive would make sense.  But someone deciding whether or not to drive after drinking is not making that decision in a rational frame of mind.

And viewers of this ad are not watching the ad rationally, either.  They are not, like good students in class, paying close attention to the 37 words shown on screen over the course of 30 seconds even though the words shine in colorful neon.  Viewers just react to the half-minute experience, to the associations made.  It is not 30 seconds of study time.

Second, people don’t add; they average.  If an advertiser gives people three reasons to do something, people won’t add together the motivating power of the three reasons.  They will average the motivating power of the three reasons.  So any time advertisers give more than one reason, they get less impact than if they’d stuck with the single most motivating reason.

Third, delayed and uncertain outcomes are far, far less motivating than immediate and certain outcomes.  All the reasons given for not driving drunk are delayed and uncertain–consequences you might possibly suffer only if you happen to get caught.  People thinking of driving drunk are pretty sure they won’t get caught.

Can’t we instead warn people of a consequence of driving drunk that is immediate and certain?

Actually, it’s not that hard.  How about: If you drive when you’re buzzed, whether you are caught or not, everyone—your girl, your friends, your family, the bartender, anyone who sees you get into or out of your car—will certainly think you are an ass****?  It’s true.  It’s immediate.  It’s certain.  It’s very motivating, especially to young men, the most image conscious beings on the planet.  It’s easy to dramatize.  And this point of view would cause young men to hesitate to drive when buzzed.

Each of the ad’s delayed and uncertain consequences explains why everyone will think you are an ass****.  But viewers probably wouldn’t need the explanation because they won’t doubt the premise.

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