mccabe on advertising

brand-as-business bit:  Tucked away in last week’s New York Times automotive section was a great piece about advertising.  The subject was Ed McCabe (of Scali, McCabe, Sloves fame) whose  iconoclastic approach to advertising etched into our brains safety as Volvo’s brand identity.  Three points  about Mr. McCabe’s strategy really resonated with me:

“Volvo’s reputation for crash safety…was solidified with a compelling statistic that Volvo used in its advertising for nearly two decades under Mr. McCabe’s direction: ‘Nine out of every 10 Volvos registered in the U.S. in the last 11 years are still on the road.’ Nowhere in that simple statement is safety mentioned, yet, according to Volvo, modern buyers overwhelmingly identify safety features as their No. 1 purchase reason.”

That speaks to the power of a simple statistic – sometimes you don’t need to explain it.

“’The client comes to me and says the dealers want to do an ad about colors to compete with Chevy’s many color combinations that existed at the time,’ McCabe said. Mr. McCabe pointed out that Volvo had few choices compared with Chevy‘s selection of more than 50, but the client was undeterred. The day was saved with a headline that shifted the focus to a different Volvo trait: ‘Volvos come in blue, green, white, yellow & red. No rust.’”

What a brilliant way to turn a competitive disadvantage on its head!

“’Weak advertising tells people what you want them to know,’” McCabe added. “’Strong advertising gets people to conclude what you want them to know.’”    [emphasis mine]

‘Nuff said.

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