Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Dangers of Dumbing Down

Call me old fashioned, but I am increasingly irritated by a rash of "dumbed down" advertisements in today's pop culture.  These sorts of messages may not work as expected.

What do I mean?  Ads that use excessive vernacular or childish words (my current peeve is "melty"), display infantile behavior, affect "edginess" and which assume that the consumer is mentally about age seven.  My suspicion is that, like too many businesses, there is a lemming-like desire to speak to the so-called Millennial Generation and that the agencies presume that Millennials are a pack of underdeveloped lightweights.  To be sure, some are.  However, my long experience assures me that the vast majority are highly intelligent consumers.

People respond to complimentary images in advertising.  That is, if they see themselves in a message, they will be more attentive.  If they see something else, they're almost certainly going to tune out.  Or worse, if they see offensive stereotypes they may react more forcefully---by sharing their negative impression with others.

My guess is that the sort of advertising I described above is backfiring.  Those campaigns are likely not creating much in the way of new customers and may even be driving out previous customers. 

Bottom Line:  It is always the best policy to speak to potential customers in a manner that assures them that you respect them.  My advice is never to react to pop culture cues and speak down, and never describe customers as fools.  There is a positive payoff to "smarting up".

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