Yes Virginia, Advertising Does Work…Sometimes


I was listening to the radio, as I drove to the airport last Sunday, when an ad came on about smoke, and carbon monoxide alarms. I was half listening, not really paying attention, since it was not exactly a captivating subject. In fact, I was a little irritated, because I always get irritated, when I think about smoke alarms. I don’t like them. Oh, I know they are necessary for sure, but I always feel a little conned with that ”change the batteries twice a year thing”. You know, when you change the clocks, you’re supposed to change the batteries in your smoke alarms at the same time. And since I live in this rambling old house, with attics, and cellars, and hidden rooms, I have a lot of batteries to change in a lot of alarms, ten alarms in fact. All of them taking one, if not two, 9-volt batteries. This means twice a year I have to schlep down to Home Depot, and buy about thirty dollars-worth of batteries.  All because someone said so; and it’s a rule in our house. I’m not sure the old batteries are even dead. I know, I know, that you can push the little button, and the alarm will wail if they are not dead, but the ads have made me so paranoid, that’s not good enough for me.

The ironic thing is that I cannot bear to throw out the old batteries I remove from the alarms, so I keep them, and now, I have a box full of them. Do you realize, that once we were done with six transistor radios years ago, the need for 9-volt batteries went away…except for smoke alarms?

And, don’t get me started on hard-wired alarms. I have had my moments with those babies. Years ago, while staying alone at a friend’s house, one of his hard-wired alarms started wailing. It was on hard-wired to the ceiling, a twelve foot high ceiling, I might add!  After I had checked around the house and determined that there was nothing to be, alarmed about, I had to stand on a chair and hit it with a broom for a while, until I finally broke it. Ironically, the alarm my friend replaced it with, did the same thing …so much for that kind of alarm. At least with the battery alarm you can take the batteries out and it stops wailing.

Okay, now back to my ride to the airport, and the radio spot about smoke alarms. Apparently, these new alarms have a ten year built in battery. Ten years! Now, they had my attention! And these new alarms were  both a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide alarm as well. And get this, they shout the words instead of wailing, saying “Fire” or “Smoke”, or “Gas”, whatever the problem they detect is. And yes, they have a turn-off button too. Now, the voice on the radio had my attention. Now, I was listening. They had me.

Right now, I can’t wait to get home, and go to Home Depot and check these babies out. I don’t care what they cost, I’m in. Do the math: thirty dollars twice a year is sixty dollars, times ten years, is a whopping six hundred dollar savings; besides, avoiding all the aggravation, of climbing up ladders, and down staircases, to find all of my alarms and replace the batteries, twice a year. It’s bad enough the this is the same day, I have to change the time on about thirty clocks my old the house. Not to mention, changing the clocks in the cars, that’s another story.

Now, to the part about advertising working. This story is a very clear-cut example, of advertising working. This ad was telling me about a product, that would solve my problems. A product, that would make my life easier. From the very first time the announcer said, “Ten year build in battery,” he had my attention and had be paying attention all through the ad. The reason was that  this was something I cared about. Something, I wanted, something I had to have, even though five-minutes earlier, I did not even know I wanted it. Yes, Virginia, advertising does work, at the right time, and the right place, and to the right audience, an audience, made up of people, who need the product, they are talking about the in the ad.

The point is that if your product actually solves a problem, a problem, that people deem important. These people  will listen to your ad, and they will most probably, buy your product without hesitation. It’s only common sense.


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