Marketing tip #93 When you should zip…zag

We are creatures of habit.  Even as marketing professionals who are supposed to be creative, innovative and "out of the box" thinkers.  There are some SOP (standard operating procedures) that are tied to most aspects of marketing.

You'll recognize some of these… (By the way…not saying I agree with these)

  • B to B advertisers should choose talk radio over top 40 stations
  • Non profits should sent out an appeal letter between Thanksgiving and December 5th
  • You have to drive traffic back to your own website
  • You should focus on the value proposition in your marketing


But, we're not the only ones who know these golden oldies.  Our audiences do to.  And so do our competitors.  Which often makes it a snore.

Sometimes if you can find the courage (and sell it internally) — taking a different direction and zagging when you should zig gives your effort a freshness and element of surprise that can be very influential and action inspiring.

Take this video by American Express.  They're trying to get consumers to join their cause marketing effort called Take Part.  The campaign is encouraging people to donate their time and/or dollars to charities. They can also vote to decide which charities win financial support from Amex.

Now…conventional wisdom would be to do a campaign that touched the hearts of the audience.  Inspire them to action.  Nothing wrong with that approach but a bit expected.  Which is why I love what they did instead.  Take a look.  (email subscribers, click here to view the video)




By using a very trendy celebrity who plays a character we really don't want to be anything like (but find funny), AMEX was able to make their point in a very fresh way.  It's the polar opposite of the PSA featuring the Indian who is so dismayed by litter than he sheds a tear (from the 70s).

We expect the tear.  We don't expect Sue.






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4 comments on “Marketing tip #93 When you should zip…zag

  1. My heart always did bleed for the 70’s Indian with that tear! Till this day while I walk the streets of Des Moines, IA looking for work or 1099 for my software. (see link & tell me your thoughts) I always pick up a rolling chip bag or other and toss it where it belongs.

  2. Kathy says:

    I love what AMEX is doing. It is different, stands out and makes them stand out from the pack.

  3. Will says:

    I saw this ad the other day and thought what a great approach to take. I think things like this, along with things like the T-Mobile UK television ad campaigns that are often out of the ordinary, really do work. Even though people know that you’re trying to sell them something, rather than snubbing sales approach, they think “Hey, I know they’re trying to coerce me into something, but I really like this so I’m going to let them”. This wins customers not by then value of the product, but through the like-ability of their ad, which is a great technique.

  4. Chris says:

    Love this ad. Great effort and a wonderful way to be different!

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