Mass Media, Timing and Mosquitos

I’m not often a big proponent of mass media advertising, particularly in an environment of highly segmented media outlets and opportunities. Most of the time it doesn’t make sense to spend money attempting to appeal to the masses when you can more narrowly target an audience through more effective communication channels that often, these days, don’t involve paid advertising.

But a personal experience related pointed to the value that mass media can still provide for certain types of products and services.

It’s mid-summer in Wisconsin and the eagerly awaited warm (in fact, until recently, quite hot) weather has been accompanied by the pests of summer–mosquito. And, given all of the rain we had in late spring, they are out en masse. So, while lying in bed reading the paper and having coffee on a recent morning, the commercial for Allegra anti-itch caught my husband’s and my attention.

Having recently gone on a weekend trip “up north” we were both “itchy and scratchy.” So, that morning as we went out and did errands, we picked up – you guessed it! – a tube of Allegra anti-itch. A great example of at least one situation where there was a direct connection between a mass media ad and a purchase decision. And, I’m guessing, that we aren’t the only “itchy and scratchy” people in the country who did the same thing.

This illustrates when and how mass media advertising can work.

  • When the product or service has broad mass appeal. Who doesn’t suffer from mosquito bites and other “itchy scratchies” in the summer?
  • When the message is well-timed. During mosquito season.

Brilliant! But, while this strategy works well for a product like Allegra anti-itch, it doesn’t work as well for other sorts of products and services and that’s where marketers can get into trouble. They emulate these advertisers feeling that if big companies spend so much on mass-media advertising it must be worthwhile. And for many of them it is. But it may not be for you–unless your product or service appeals to “just about everyone,” and the timing of your message is “spot on.”

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement


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