Link: Click Here
Target: Nervous Internet Users
A series of commercials (one above) in which AOL touts its security and safety by graphically showing how it keeps spammers out of its community and its members safe. In the first spot, a door-to-door salesman-type approaches people as they are entering an AOL building with spam-like offers like “you may already have won” and is repeatedly frustrated by sliding glass doors which shut in his face. In a newer spot, an AOL member walks though an AOL building with an AOL employee talking about being protected from viruses, spyware, identity theft and phishing while the employee keeps him from running into things, tripping, having a door open in his face, etc.
These two spots are the most successful in AOL’s flurry of advertising to attempt to shore up its eroding base of users. They focus on one part of the ‘better Internet’ that AOL has been promising which seems most relevant for individual users – security.
These spots are an excellent example of making every element of the advertising work hard for the brand. Here are the things to look for:
- Great Branding – These spots use both sight and sound to reinforce the AOL brand name, meaning that you hear and see the brand multiple times during the spot.
- Engaging – The humor in these spots is engaging and links back to the brand. Each little slapstick routine or pratfall (like the cheap salesperson repeated running into the closed door) is a simple, easily understandable metaphor for what AOL is doing for its users.
- Clear Brand Positioning – For once, the value proposition for AOL is simple and clear. AOL offers a better Internet because it is safer. It protects you from spam, viruses, identity theft, phishing, etc.
- Good Pacing – These spots move along briskly and get their message through quickly. They won’t lose most people who are interested in the message.
From the pure advertising point of view, these are excellent spots.
These spots received three stars rather than four (or possibly five) not because of the advertising itself, but because of the underlying value proposition to the consumer. We don’t think it is entirely there yet. AOL is much, much closer to finding a reason to exist in the age of broadband access, but nothing that AOL is doing now really justifies the pricetag of over $20 a month. And AOL’s declining user figures attest to that. The solution, however, is complicated. The company has expressed the possibility that it may begin giving more services away and move to a more Yahoo-like advertising driven portal model. But a membership model with e-mail could make sense if the pricing were more realistic.
The message here is that great advertising exists only when the promise of the advertising is fulfilled by the product underlying the brand. In this case, the performance is there, but the value proposition is weak because of the pricing. We cannot strongly endorse advertising that does not entirely fulfill its promise.
Branding Bottom Line:
AOL decides to stand for something. Sort of.