Advertise beyond product

Slogans, images and words appear all around us that we associate with lifestyle and beliefs that link with what we buy. Sometimes it is just the name or image that we remember of a company opposed to a product. Sometimes it is product led and other times advertising does not promote a company or product but something bigger than both – something to get your teeth into and believe in.

Firstly, sponsorship. This is the way to make sure the world is aware that you exist. This kind of advertising you will see stitched into motorcycle leathers, stuck onto sides of cars or on billboards around a pitch. They just read the name ‘Motol’ or ‘Puma’. You may have no idea what the company actually sells or stands for but there they are. Then when you are buying your next pair of shoes you will see ‘Puma’ and make the connection between that product and where you saw it. Simple.

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In British Superbikes because of sponsorship deals being made there are some great team names like ‘Buildbase Suzuki’, ‘Be wiser Ducati’ or my personal favourite ‘Anvil Hire Tag Yamaha’. Clearly these teams need money and sponsorship is where they get it. Buildbase will sell you stone and building supplies, Be Wiser will sell you insurance and Anvil Hire Tag will rent you Anvil’s? Anyway, it is clear that these companies do not have a strong connection to motorcycling but the audience of motorcycling racing. These spectators will need these companies therefore it is good for advertisers to advertise. Not inspiring but effective.

A more subtle advertising technique is demonstrated well by Triumph Motorcycles when advertising a specific product. Imagine the motorcycle in question is a movie the advert is the trailer. They show you best bits to get you to spend your money on the machine. They are selling the product and not the company. Like movies these trailers will differ and be specific from machine to machine but you will see a trend emerge about the company. It is like watching different films made by the same director.

What is different is that there is no bold typeface or bright colours. They have your attention because you are watching; they are not trying to get you to watch. You are already convinced you just need to be sold. Opposed to this is when you see symbols flooding into popular culture.

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A good example of this is Monster energy drinks. They have associated themselves with all things dangerous, extreme or in any way active. They have famously done this by giving away t-shirts and stickers for years. People put them everywhere. It gets people to engage and be aware of Monster on a global scale. I have not seen one advert about Monster energy drinks. About how they taste, what they are or where to buy them. But I have seen that green ‘M’ on sport icons, race cars, airplanes, teenagers scooters, laptops and sides of buses. Then when I see the ‘M’ on a can I know it and am more likely to buy it – because I know it.

The strongest advertising I have seen recently worked perfectly because it sold and reinforced a belief system that could be applied beyond one product. It has the ability to grow into a culture for a company and even to be used as a catchphrase in popular culture.

This company know whom they are selling to and are not afraid of that. You are thrown into an overtly masculine culture and this group of people need something to be proud of. The sport which this is in reference to is bull riding. Not to be confused with bull fighting this is cowboys trying to stay on a bucking bull for 8 seconds. There is leather, hats, beer, muscle, pain, competition, broken bones, gambling, family and pride all in one hive of activity.

It is a rugged, raw unpredictable hard dangerous sport. The commentators, riders, spectators and everyone involved plays up to this. There is no trickery, slight of hand or fooling when that chute opens with 1600lb of flying bull with its hind legs 7 feet off the ground, spit spiralling out of its jaw and 75kg man on its back. You would struggle to consider this a half arsed sport.

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Many sports, especially team sports, players can get away with half arseing it at times. But when you see riders on the back of a bucking bull you know where their attention is and that is commendable.

But how can you sell off of the back of this?

A slogan that you believe and is repeated night in and night out. In holding areas, locker rooms, spoken with direction to riders, support staff as well as the bulls this slogan transcends into any situation when anything is rugged, tough and respected.

Built Ford Tough

Used to promote the F-series of trucks that Ford sell it has gone beyond a linage of vehicles. You see a rider hold on to a ravage bull and the commentators will shout out ‘that boy is built Ford tough’. You see clips of men on building sites hitting walls with sledgehammers that do not break ‘That wall is built Ford tough’. NFL players take a huge hit and get up ‘he is built Ford tough’.

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Ford placed their advertising that when people saw it they thought, rugged, reliable, will do anything, go anywhere and is built strong. The truck is Built Ford Tough like these bull riders are. There is no tougher sport, dedicated professionals or strong kinship than in bull riding so that is where to advertise a truck.

I made this connection between Ford and being tough as I first heard the slogan when watching the bull riding. I am now thinking it whenever I see something or someone strong – even more so when I see Ford trucks.

The trucks back up the slogan as they look mean and ready. I personally think it is one of the best pieces of advertising I have ever engaged with. When you first read or hear it the words does not sit well which makes you repeat it in your head and think about it. Then it is there and stuck.

As a joke I now say it to myself when I see Ford KA’s. But it is true my KA, a small 1.3l petrol engine, has 135,000 miles on it and the car is fine and is holding up well. I am sure that all makes and models of cars can boast similar achievements but for me if it is between anything else and a Ford I know I am choosing the vehicle that is Build Ford Tough.

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Ford has used a similar slogan in the UK with its line of Transit vans. ‘Transits Mean Business’. Again on face value this paints a picture of a van that is rugged capable and engaged with the task at hand. As well as suggesting that if you have a Ford transit that you will be successful and you will make money driving around; simple and clear and memorable.

I initially saw the Transit slogan on a side of the building and heard the ‘Built Ford Tough’ slogan used in context of a rodeo in full swing. The Built Ford Tough slogan therefore holds gravitas and the connection between the company and rugged dependability is clear to me.

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