Thursday, December 30, 2010

Get Consumers to Laugh With You, Not At You

During the 1950s, pianist Wladziu Valentino Liberace—known better to his fans as Liberace—was among the highest paid entertainers in the world. A number of music critics thoroughly panned his talents, though, and he was ridiculed for his flamboyant style.
     Liberace’s response to all this was a set of words he used in a variety of forms throughout the rest of his career. A Wikipedia article about him says he first used the phrasing in a letter to a critic. Liberace wrote, “Thank you for your very amusing review. After reading it, in fact, my brother George and I cried all the way to the bank.” Soon, Liberace made it a part of his concert performance patter. He’d talk about how his piano playing and his mannerisms were fodder for criticism, and then with a broad smile, he’d say, “I cried all the way to the bank.”
     Getting your retailing audience to laugh with you rather than at you in this way is being exemplified these days by Allstar Products Group, the manufacturer and marketer of the Snuggie—that blanket with sleeves. The first generation of TV ads for the Snuggie masterfully explained, in a straightforward way, the benefits of the product: “The ultra soft fleece keeps you totally warm, and the sleeves keep your hands free.” But, as a recent New York Times article points out, the outlandish appearance of a person wearing a blanket promptly led to a seemingly endless procession of jokes and parodies.
     The impetus for the current NYT article was a realization that the Snuggie has turned this ridicule to advantage: The latest crop of Snuggie ads, introduced for the 2010 holiday season, show people joining in the fun with broad smiles on their faces, looking as silly and as warm as ever.
     Being able to laugh at yourself shows a humility that most shoppers find attractive. In many cultures, such as Latino and Japanese, ridiculing a retailer or product that competes with yours is considered offensive. Here, you’re ridiculing yourself. Humor usually relaxes tensions and lifts spirits, both of which enhance the desire to finalize the purchase.
     Keep the humor fresh, though. Liberace did. After years of using his line, he had an appearance on “The Tonight Show.” Liberace exploited the opportunity to add a twist: “I don’t cry all the way to the bank anymore,” he said. Why? “I bought the bank.”

Click below for more:
Joke Around to Facilitate the Sale
Use Humor in Unexpected Ways

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