Sunday, 19 May 2013

The Curious Case of The Kidnapped Man (or Why Cargiant Should Have Locked Down Its Proposition Before Launching a Mass Media Campaign)

It’s not often that marketers see ads that make us want to weep in embarrassment for the whole profession. Yet I just do not understand how these Cargiant’s ads came to grace the side of 6 (yes, six!) buses that I saw in the space of two hours. 

‘We don’t do hassle’ they tell us. Excellent. Back-to-basics, stripped down service appeals to those who know what they want and just want to get on with it. But wait – it says ‘no hard sell, just helpful advisors.’ So they DO distinguish themselves on their helpful service?     

Confused about the service we might be, but still none the wiser about what they actually sell (or advise on, hassle-free.) Seek out clues. The large, bold ‘Cargiant’ is the next thing that jumps out. That’s probably what this ad is advertising. Whatever it is that Cargiant might do, apparently they offer ‘giant choice’ AND ‘giant savings.’ Neither of these messages in any way tie in with the other two service-related ones, but we’ll overlook that. There are more exciting riddles to solve, like who’s the distressed kidnapped man in the middle? No, wait, he’s holding his hands there voluntarily, sans cuffs. Still none the wiser about the duck tape.

‘A better way to buy a car’ we finally read, and it all falls into place. Cargiant sells cars. The website is there, so they probably do it online. Without hassle and without hard selling, but with helpful advice and lots of choice and lots of savings. That’s what distinguishes them from other companies that sell cars. Wait, what was the start of that list again?

The grand irony is that Cargiant actually seems to have a lot to say for itself. It’s the world’s largest used car dealership. They offer the best price guarantee. With 40 years experience they are absolute experts.  And with an army of skilled mechanics and 13 acres of workshops, your car’s service cannot be in better hands.

It takes a lot to create a great campaign for a mediocre offering. Turning a successful, simple brand with clearly articulated benefits into a confusing and bland ad accompanied by irrelevant imagery (duck tape!) must take even more. If brand owners cannot decide what their proposition is, the last thing they should do is mix 4 different ones and put the dilemma to the unsuspecting public.

Somewhere, media buyers are chuckling to themselves. With half of the capital’s buses sporting this curious T-sides, they are the only winning party in this campaign.