‘Think Outside The Box’ Marketing

The Super Bowl is known worldwide as the showcasing of the best players in America’s game. It also happens to be the time when some pretty spectacular commercial ads are shown that have water coolers buzzing for days following the big game. I often wonder sometimes how those amazing marketing ideas get created. Without a doubt, “think outside the box” marketing  concepts were circulated at the conference room table.

This expression gets thrown around everywhere and in any circle – from weekly corporate meetings to school fundraisers to entrepreneurial coffee house meet-ups.  But how often do we really, I mean really, take the time to truly think outside the box when it comes to our business? What does it mean to think outside the box and why do we feel that when we do, those ideas seem so far-fetched that they get dismissed, thus killing the very action we are trying to achieve?

For years, I used to hear the same line from business owners in a small town I was working in at the time…”I’ll advertise when I make a little more money.” Oy…that used to send me into a tailspin…seriously? It was always the biggest clue to me that either one, they had no clue how the basic rules of business worked or two, they had no clue how the basic rules of marketing a business worked. Either way, I knew they weren’t going to budge.

[pullquote type=”left”]When it comes to marketing, the term “think outside the box” can go to brilliant places. But, for many business owners, fear holds them back from actually pulling the trigger on an idea that lives outside of the “norm”.[/pullquote]Thinking outside the box requires a certain level of bravery. With every brilliant idea comes one that flops and the only way of actually knowing is testing it. And that’s where the fear comes in. Often times, when it comes to business ventures that are “outside the box”, you will certainly hear “well, it’s never been done before” voiced by a colleague or associate and again, that fear creeps in…what if it does flop?

There have been many ideas that have flopped over the course of business and marketing. One personal flop (in my opinion) was Geico’s odd commercial campaign with the talking portraits. The initial concept of the portraits wasn’t that off putting, but the dialogue was so irritating and ridiculous to me that it caused me to seriously dislike the ads and as soon as I would see them come on, I’d change the channel.

However, other ads have evoked brilliance in their “outside the box” thinking. Apple iPhone 5 ads – Photos Every Day (2013) commercial campaign featuring people taking pictures and capturing moments in their lives was so good it made me want to take a photo of anything immediately after watching it. The “think outside the box” moment is using a feature of the phone and showing it everyday action – no celebrity endorsement, no cost-saving deal – simply anyone and everyone using the phone’s camera feature to capture the moments in life that make it worth living. So freaking smart. Do you SEE the brilliance here?

Another one of my favorites is the Volkswagen Beetle 2011 Super Bowl XLV television commercial with the little beetle zipping through the forest – amazing and brilliant work! These concepts are actually examples of pretty basic ideas, but their execution created an out-of-the-box moment…instead of the standard listing of features that make the VW Beetle vehicle so great, they simply took the actual name and made race driver out of one of a small creature and gave us some amazing views as we tapped our feet to Black Betty, covered by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

Budweiser is another company that understands this “think outside the box” delivery with their Clydesdales commercials. Even people who don’t drink beer talk about these commercials – they evoke emotion.

Yes, there is no doubt that the Super Bowl brings forth not only great football, but great commercials (which is another out of the box idea – ways to get people to stay and watch COMMECIALS!? Again – brilliant!) But, there are many other commercials that have used this marketing concept successfully.

Think of the Jake from State Farm commercials. My 16 year old actually asked me which insurance we use after seeing those ads a few times and recites them, giggling each time, because he thought (as I did) that they were hilarious. But, what made this stick was no price point was ever mentioned. No typical insurance branding – it was all service-oriented with a spin using humor.

My personal favorite lately is the Dove deodorant commercials, featuring an open letter to the armpit. Whoever came up with this deserves serious recognition – I mean, come on! It’s brilliant! AND gets you thinking of the armpit in a TOTALLY different way!

Now, I could go all day pointing out brilliant ads, but, I think you get the jest. The reason they excite me so much is because they are truly examples of thinking outside the box. They peel away the typically gimmicks and pricing and look beyond at the heart of the consumer they are trying to reach and have figured out the best way to evoke an impression.

After all, that’s what branding is. Getting your business’ name to pop up in someone’s head the second they think of a need they have that your business can offer. So often, we see the parade of commercials and advertisements and they all follow this basic outline of logo, name mentioned X number of times, pricing stated, oh, don’t forget the phone number – really!? If you evoke someone to want your service, trust me, they will find your number. You don’t have to quickly scroll it at the bottom or shout at them to “come by now!” “Sale ends soon!”

Yes, there are times when deals are worth mentioning, especially when you are having a sale, but, those should be only brought out during certain times of the year, with the rest devoted to your customer. When in doubt, while creating your advertising piece, ask yourself the one question that should begin ANY conversation – why? Fully submerge yourself in the shoes of your customer and ask yourself – ‘why should I care about this?’ Time is precious and no one wants theirs wasted. So, don’t waste it! evoke an emotion, get to the core of your message, and most importantly, speak from the heart TO the heart.

What commercials or advertisements have made lasting impressions on you? What was the reason they spoke to you? What type of ads turn you off? Share your thoughts by commenting below!
About the Author Lysa Greer

Lysa is a seasoned Business Strategist and Service Designer with a profound commitment to crafting holistic, valued experiences. Her specialization lies in optimizing offers to empower service-based entrepreneurs in realizing their business visions. Drawing from 24 years of multifaceted experience in broadcast and digital media, Lysa offers an array of opportunities for collaboration with diverse clients and teams, fostering connections in both virtual and in-person settings.

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