One of the worst mistakes an advertiser can make is sending mixed messages. I’m always paying attention to advertising and marketing to see how others attempt to get their message across in 15-30 seconds. After-all, the human attention span isn’t getting any greater, and we’re overloaded with messages on a day-to-day basis so we weed out almost everything anymore. That’s interruptive marketing at its best. What happens when advertisers confuse the message and stray from the core of what the business actually does?
A prime example today of a mixed message campaign is Rally’s Hamburgers, a southeastern based burger and fry joint with dual drive through windows (one on each side of their facilities) which used to be headquartered in my backyard of Louisville, KY. They have since merged with Checker’s, and I believe they moved their HQ to
Their current advertising campaign focuses on a toy-like figure named “Rap Cat.” In their ads they have two younger guys who supposedly work one of the drive through lanes at Rally’s. Frequently the ads discuss current specials and one of the guys will suggest your visit their drive thru window to get the special. Then the other one will offer the exact same special for their drive thru lane. The punch line usually has something to do with visiting one side of the drive thru instead of the other because that side features “Rap Cat.” Then the video snaps to some goofy looking stuffed animal that meows in a rap-like fashion with a bad voice over. Not only is the campaign poorly done, it totally mixes the core message of the chain’s business–selling tasty fast food at a very reasonable price. To me, a more effective message would be to capitalize on the popularity of their unique fries versus some stupid toy that likely doesn’t propel anyone to want to go to Rally’s over McDonald’s or Wendy’s. If I’m even remotely hungry and an ad comes on television at the proper time, I am much more likely to run out of my house to a particular chain if the food either appeals to my taste buds or something looks good. Rally’s fries appeal to most people’s taste buds if they’ve ever had them before, and they look tasty. Rap-Cat does nothing to inspire most people to want to seek out Rally’s. Kids may identify with the toy, but I seriously doubt it. I will give the campaign one bit of credit–it’s so bad it’s memorable, but I wonder if that’s what Rally’s is after. Do they want an advertising campaign that is so bad it becomes memorable to the point people are talking about it only because the advertising is horrible?
Since I don’t have access to hard numbers, I can’t project the true impact of this mixed message campaign, but I can dare Rally’s to talk to my company and its partners about fixing the message and driving revenue instead of wasting money on some hair-brained attempt at being cute. If Rally’s wants to be a toy store, get out of the fast food business and partner up with Toys-R-Us. They aren’t McDonald’s where they can have five or six messages proliferating the airwaves and still survive.
In the meantime, the takeaway is don’t confuse your potential consumer by sending mixed messages and poor attempts at humor or cuteness. Stick to your core and establish recognition first then when you become McDonald’s or Burger King, you can tinker with various messages.
If Rally’s happens to read this, an admitted long shot, they can find out more about my company by visiting http://smbconsultinginc.com. I’m quite confident we can help them fix their message and possibly their company in the process.