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Best New Thinking Winner 2010

Big Propositions

Spam, spam spam spam – what can you do with it? Well for a start recycle it. I’ve shovelled so much of this crap into my deleted items folder before I wondered if there weren’t a few lessons to be drawn from this heap of ordure. So sit back and enjoy the ride – a little proposition analysis using that most unlikely source – sex enhancement spam mail.

1. Point one. Start with the category. I get loads of spam. Perhaps 5-10 of the penis enhancing variety a day – and this has been going on for months. If you’re interested I also get offered new career opportunities with ebay, prescription drugs, gadgets that give me free cable TV, mortages at 1.5 %. und so und so weiter. Which is why I want to start at the category level. We spend far too much time polishing our propositions with little or no regard for the communications context. In other words what’s with the category? In this instance it is a mass of ludicrous overpromise offering instant and humungous results for modest spend. In other words when these babies turn up in my intray I’ve been so overmailed I am disinclined to pay attention or to treat any of their claims as serious. Now you could argue that the more of these ads the hapless punter gets the more they will take it for granted that adding a few inches must be true otherwise there wouldn’t be so many of the damm ads in the first place. But I wouldn’t go there. More interesting is the apparent nugget that larger penis is one of the most searched phrases on internet search engines – everybody else must be doing it so start popping the pills you don’t want to be the one keeping the batting average low. Nope I’d conclude that yer average punter is probably inclined to ignore what you send because a) they’ve heard it before b) someone else will tell them more or less the same thing another 10 times in the next 24 hours – so you’re going to need something that stands out.

2. Now then we’ve got a number of routes to explore:

a) the straight benefit route. Of course the best ones use time closure. Like the one offering a bigger dick by Christmas sent out on Dec 19th when Jack, beanstalk and magic beans are some of the phrases that come to mind. Followed by a few more on Dec 27th allowing the lucky contestant the chance to catch up before the New Year. And “this will help you be the best in the sack”

b) the 4 million flies can’t be wrong route. “68,881 bottles sold”, 13,955,243 orders filled and counting. 76,377,766 happy customers worldwide.

c) the insecurity route – don’t beat around the bush: “Are you insecure about your love muscle?” “Want more self-confidence?” this one mailed by your hidden friend.. and “Hi I’m a real man now” mailed by Imogene who must have had corrective surgery.

d) Then we have endorsement – the first involving awestruck women. “all women agree!” “Make her beg you to give it to her every night” and the tantalising “surprise your women” which must go down well with coach parties. Secondly the endorsement of the medical profession. I have a real soft spot for the actor wearing the white coat and stethoscope who is plainly a medical expert (not) who knows how to keep it ‘natural’. Thirdly is then the “How do the porn stars do it?” My favourite in this genre is the fourth option the anti-endorsement – “Your wife will never know” “It’s 100% anonymous”. Really? Isn’t she going to be a tad suspicious when within a matter of days you’re having to devise ingenious ways to negotiate doorways and narrow passages..

e) Then there’s stamina argument – from the modest “do it twice” to Alpha Male Plus which speaks for itself really. Only in this instance it seems to be borrowing rather heavily from the elk. The elk can keep going for 5 minutes – but translated into the human nervous system this extends to several days – all of which is good news for the human but I suspect rather less good news for the elk who has to make the ultimate sacrifice.And the alternative “Wild Stallion for men. As seen on Oprah!” I hope not. I mean look how America coped with Justin and Janet at the Superbowl.

f) Absolute claims “The most advanced johnson enlargement on the planet”. It also claims to eliminate premature ejaculation at the same time presumably because being so advanced, your now elongated johnson gives you all the time in the world.

g) Knocking copy. “There is no other way to enlarge your penis”. Marvellous – just trash everybody else.Which continues in charming vein “Stop using pumps and hanging agonizing weights off your wood…”

Now its easy to poke fun at these oh so generic routes but I assume they have been framed because they are considered to be generic pullers – they are supposed to deliver the goods though they do look like a hoary old bunch of chestnuts to me. My problem with them is they seem very predictable and after a while they all merge with one another. They don’t hold up.

Offers on the other hand are another thing entirely and play a large part.. “100% satisfaction guaranteed or your money back”. “Full refund” removing the element of risk. Offers of a free bottle of herbal pills – the first month for free.. This a perpetual debate around direct response briefs. Should the proposition be about the product or about the offer? Extended pause for one of those tedious debates about whether it builds the brand. On the one hand you get the sale on the other hand the customer never has to engage with the product. Result a split brief where we bang on about the so called product message but rely on the offer to get us the results. The great thing about offers is sampling. If the customer tries the product and you can manage the experience – it costs a lot more to do so but you have more chance of getting them coming back for more because they have used the product not just been told about it. The only reason why sampling isn’t used more often is the expense –

Then there is the covert route – partly because the spam filters are supposed to throw all this stuff out unread anyway. “Your account has been cancelled” and “Can’t do lunch” designed to get you to open it.But I prefer the ingenious typography such as “Its much becatbirdtter when its locoroutinenger” “Do you want a huangorage slgrandchildong” “Get a bu.lky p”0le and “You need a lonhandicapperg one” Which is amusing but shows how often substantial efforts have to be made to get under the radar because the hapless recipient is forewarned and forearmed. An awful lot of the time we have to work with the expectation that the recipient doesn’t want the message and will filter it out given half a chance.

So come on then Griffiths did none of it get through to you? Not even once? Well just once I wondered about the free samples. And the guaranteed refund. Which all goes to show that deep down I’m sensitive.. promotionally sensitive. I suppose I should really run all this little lot past Mrs G and get her to give it the once over…

 

 


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