Best or worst advertising idea?

Is this the best or worst advertising idea ever?

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. My son has suggested a bold new advertising idea which would command the rapt attention of every sixteen year old in the country. What youth brand wouldn’t want that?

So, picture the scene: a large hall filled with desks in neatly spaced rows. A faint smell of disinfectant and cold sweat. To your left a teenager is scratching away furiously with their pen, whipping over the pages of their exam paper with impatient speed. To your right another teen is resting their forehead on the desk, pen drooping limply in their hand. You turn to the next question in your maths GCSE paper:

“Tom and Sarah are sharing a Domino’s pizza takeaway. Tom’s Hawaiian costs £2.65 more than Sarah’s Thin Crust Special, but Sarah’s extra large drink costs 5% more than Tom’s. Calculate Sarah’s share if…” … you get the idea.

Immediately every young person in school halls up and down the land is concentrating intently on Domino’s, in fact the brand would be etched into their brains for that summer and beyond. Surely there would be a rush on takeaway orders to power them through a revision session that evening, or to celebrate the end of exams?

Or perhaps not. Perhaps forever after the mere mention of Domino’s would take them back to that sweaty exam hall, churning stomach and all. And after discussing their answers with their friends afterwards, and realising that they got Tom and Sarah’s share completely wrong, they’ll find they bear a grudge against the brand forever.

Putting aside the ethics (and I wouldn’t be the first) in this scenario, where you are when you come across a brand message has a strong effect on how that message is received. Whether it’s because you are unable to act on that message immediately (and then forget it), or because the circumstances bestow unintended associations on the brand, media choice can be crucial.

So it’s not surprising that the question I’m most often asked by brand owners is which media they should use. Not what they should say. Not even whom they should be talking to. But really it’s part of the same question.

What are we talking about when we talk about media? It’s more than cost per thousand. It’s understanding who you’re talking to, their motivation and mindset. After all, that target audience in the exam room could all be vegan health aficionados with gluten intolerance.

The best media choice in the world is squandered if the message is not finely honed to be its most memorable and persuasive. That said, even if the exam question had read “Tom’s handmade Hawaiian special is loaded with luscious fresh pineapple from the tropics…”, I don’t think the situation could have been saved.

I may have to disappoint my son and tell him that he has not yet devised the best advertising idea ever. But perhaps not the worst one either. After all, I’m starting to feel rather hungry.