One of the most discussed topics in the hallowed backrooms of marketing & advertising think tanks in the creative process is “the metaphorical icon” which not only captures the essence of what it is they want to say … but can become some useable thought to extend out beyond the TV commercial, the magazine ad … the whatever tangible paid marketing and inject itself seamlessly into culture <to the entertainment of the public and the advantage of the marketer>.
Here is the thing.
No creative person likes to talk about it <the extendable metaphor>… and no one wants to aim for it … because these kinds of ideas just kind of happen for a variety of reasons.
Suffice it to say … the more you want it the less it happens. And of course the corollary … the less you think about it the more likely you will think of something like that.
The only people who discuss it? Typically the corporate people <I want something like “x” company did … can we do something like that?>, scared marketing /advertising executives to their development teams <”x” company did that and we need to come up with something like that – please note the silent “you better” underlying> or just hack senior management <we need a metaphorical icon or a mnemonic device … come up with one>.
Every time someone suggests “I want something like that little <annoying> gnome that Travelocity has” or “can’t you guys come up with something like that giant asparagus … you know … the jolly green giant?” creative teams cringe.
Most people with a brain cringe.
When it works it works. Sometimes it even works in ways you could never imagine <ok … you can imagine … just never imagined it would happen with your idea> and sometimes it just works <and you have to avoid the temptations to make it better than the good idea it is>.
Unfortunately. Sometimes it doesn’t work. And it cannot work in a couple of ways.
It can simply be a bad idea that is just bad <simple as that>.
Or it can be a forced idea … one where an icon or visual device is forced in because it was demanded in the assignment.
And it is the latter I am gonna mention here … and I get to talk about Giraffes.
Some hotel. Oh. Not a hotel … an inn … Residence Inn.
Residence Inn Giraffe: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEhLVwK5uCQ
Apparently this “Inn” has extremely high ceilings, lots of head space for those really tall people who are traveling all the time, for people to feel comfortable in.
Oh. But the giraffe is in bed. So they have really long beds?
Sometimes the metaphor is kind of a stretch <pun intended>.
I get it is a “spacious” room … but … I am not really sure a traveler wants to be a giraffe <even metaphorically>.
What do I mean? Oh. Don’t lions eat giraffes? Oops. The lions must stay at other places.
<note: there is actually a Hotel Giraffe in new York city … I have never been there … google informed me … apparently it is an “oasis of sophisticated style” which embodies the gentle power, grace and beauty found in one of nature’s most beloved animals … so if you do not want to go to the zoo and feel like a Giraffe … stay there >
Next up for Residence Inn?
Residence Inn Elephant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjrhMEIoNwA
And they have used penguins.
I know their next product extension.
I don’t hate the commercial … of course it is well done <done by McGarryBowen I think> and metaphorically I get where they are going:
- I imagine it all began with some brand manager standing up in the front of a room pounding the table saying something like “everyone listen … we ARE different … not only are we an Inn instead of a Hotel … but Inn rooms are bigger than Hotel rooms … LOTS more bigger … we aren’t talking inches but square feet for gods sake … spacious … almost cavernous … no … so spacious you can almost roam the space like the wide grasslands of the open wild.”
It was an impassioned speech based on what is probably a true, if not discernibly different or truly important, functional aspect semi-relevant to someone sleeping in a room who is ultimately there only to do business for the time they are out of the bed <and out of the room> but extremely relevant to the company and its employees.
Meanwhile, somewhere else in the same room, a brand planner lounged in a chair languidly using some big words to suggest that business people who stay extended amounts of time in a hotel <oops … Inn> have read every positive thinking sales/business book ever written and every time they step across the threshold out into the real world in the morning they pump up their confidence <and their fist> like they are going to battle. They need to stand tall with confidence. The planner even probably summarized the project brief with something like “Residence Inn. Stand Tall.” And everyone sagely nodded their heads in unison and said “brilliant insight.”
<note: somewhere in the back of the room a bored creative guy – who was kind of chuckling on and off again at the rambling idiots briefing them – doodled a giraffe standing in the middle of a room thinking “maybe I could shove this giraffe up some brand manager’s butt”>
When are giraffes relevant in marketing? Gosh. Maybe For African documentaries? Ok. Ok. Toys ‘r Us developed a fabulous idea with a giraffe many years ago. Geoffrey the Giraffe. Fabulous. One of those ideas of which if they could have come up with it maybe two years earlier and had a CMO who had the kahones <and brains> to maximize it … they may have avoided some of the business challenges they inevitable encountered.
I understand that advertising is difficult … to be entertaining as well as trying to communicate some functional useful reason for someone to spend money on you … but sometimes it becomes too far a reach in the use of metaphors.
(me) Yeah, yeah, yeah.
See my ‘awareness isn’t enough’ post <its not enough to just be remembered … that is a low unprofessional bar>.
I absolutely recognize It is a difficult category <the hotel, motel, Holiday Inn category … to use Sugar Hill Gang ‘Rapper’s Delight’ lyric reference> but using animals, kids and “Free” is kind of a cheap advertising trick.
That’s my gripe.
The actual animals aren’t really relevant to what Residence Inn actually stands for … therefore … they must only be using the animals as cheap trick to create an ‘entertaining ad to increase awareness’ <and get noticed by us idiot TV watchers>.
Nicely done ads though.