What really fascinates me about marketing is the psychology of it. People’s motivations to buy a brand are deeply rooted in largely emotional responses that have little to do with the rational arguments that marketers put forth as persuasion. The most compelling brands have found a way to tap into the foundation of our evolutionary biology. They appeal to our need to feel loved, social status, tribalism, or to protect our children. Of course you can’t go for that stuff right off the bat, you have to introduce yourself first, same as when on the first date with someone you don’t get into your OCD or penchant for dog collars. Always best to save that sort of thing for when you have the hook in a bit first.
One of my favorite examples of highly evolved advertising is the Gatorade “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” tribute to the 2006 USA world cup soccer team.
It’s essentially a one-minute un-narrated documentary (30 second version appears here but same idea). The Gatorade name doesn’t appear until the very end. It’s not the usual inspiring sports footage saying “Go USA” either. In fact, they are clearly demonstrating how lonely the international soccer scene is for the upstart Yanks who have no credible soccer tradition in the world’s eyes and hail from the hated Bush America. All this is movingly juxtaposed to our national baseball anthem. You feel for these guys and applaud their commitment and guts to go out and compete. And if that sense of tribal pride doesn’t get you to go buy some Gatorade, well then you’re just a very heartless individual.