Targeting—What You Don’t Know

Ever hear about a PR or ad campaign judged successful that you have zero awareness of? Ever hear about a PR or ad campaign judged successful that you are aware of, but have little personal interest in? For me, the answers are yes and yes.

The recent success of “The Hunger Games” demonstrates the former. I am not in the movie’s target demo, but am a movie fan. I have read much about the movie online and in magazines such as Entertainment Weekly. Still, following the movie’s huge opening, I learned of numerous advertising and promotional efforts for the movie that completely escaped my personal media monitors (my eyes and ears). The result: record-setting ticket sales.

To me, that’s an indication of a job well done. Reaching your target audience or specific publics with your message is always the goal of a sharp communicator. Those responsible for generating buzz via paid and earned coverage and social media made sure that their targets got the word from multiple sources. The fact that I, though an ardent media observer, may have missed some of them is irrelevant.

On the other hand, take Super Bowl commercials. The costs for production and airtime are enormous. The publicity surrounding the spots results in lots of media talk. Extended versions of the spots get tons of hits on Youtube. But, in many cases, you and I don’t care about the product or its message. I’d wager that you are not planning to buy, say, the new Lexus, even if the spot entertained you. I’d also wager that all Super Bowl advertisers would tell you their spots were successful. But I would argue that most could have spent their money more efficiently and done a better job of targeting.

Well, yes, “The Hunger Games” did have a Super Bowl commercial, but, for the studio, this may have been money well spent. The movie already had good buzz among its target—the Super Bowl spot helped build momentum within its target and awareness beyond its target. Production costs were minimal—just take clips from the finished movie. The key difference between a spot for “The Hunger Games” and one for Lexus is that a movie ticket costs a few dollars and a Lexus costs tens of thousands.

When winners for best PR and ad campaigns are announced, the campaigns honored are sometimes unfamiliar. Instead of wondering how they won with a campaign of which you have little awareness, congratulate them on targeting their messages directly to their targets/publics. What you don’t know… may be some of the best work out there.

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