Home » Book Excerpt: Most Ads Suck – Chapter 6

Book Excerpt: Most Ads Suck – Chapter 6

Chapter 6 – Speak to the Heart

“Before you can take people where you want them to go, you have to meet them where they are.” – Roy H. Williams

The workday is done, but not really. Your workday never seems to end. Owning your own business gives you a lot of freedom to make your own rules and decisions, but it also weighs you down because your business never leaves your mind. Whether you’re in the building or not, your business is always open in your mind.

Today you weren’t as productive as you could have been. Part of you wants to blame it on the Super Bowl running so late. Overtime? How many of those games go into overtime? But you know the truth. You’ve been distracted by these new revelations about advertising all day long. You start your drive home, justifying your actions in your mind.

You think, “This will be useful for my own ads.”

You think, “This was research into the minds of our customers.”

You think, “I’m onto something and this thread could be the most important thread I pull this year.”

You think, “Because this applies to my business, I’m working on my business instead of in my business today.”

Yeah, you’re using logic to justify what your heart wanted to do. Isn’t that always the truth? Even in your own business you sell to the heart. You sell on the emotion.

It isn’t that you’re selling something they don’t need. You just know that a decision made by the heart is far stronger than one made by the mind.

Every big decision you have made in your own life was decided by your heart. You fell in love with your spouse. You fell in love with your house. You created a business so that you could get paid doing what you love.

Sure, facts are important, you remind yourself. Without them, you couldn’t sell the more expensive products and services. At the end of the day, however, facts are only the justification. The heart pulls out the wallet.

Of all the ads from last night’s game, the one you can’t get out of your head is Audi. You have a young daughter. The narration spoke to your heart. It could have been you narrating that ad. Politics aside, you connected and felt something. You always thought you’d own a Mercedes someday. But now Audi is on the radar.

The feeling was similar to that old Budweiser commercial you remembered earlier when all the people in the airport started clapping and applauding the soldiers walking through the terminal. Some people mocked that ad, saying it had nothing to do with drinking beer and was just a sentimental ploy. You knew the truth. It hit you right in the feels. You raised your own glass to toast those soldiers when that commercial played.

Your mind starts racing again, knowing you are onto something. Emotions play a role in making ads more effective. Tugging at the heartstrings worked on you. You’re sure it works on others. You wonder if the Beatles were right after all. All you need is love. You try to reconcile this with the ads you’ve seen lately.

Yes, Love is powerful. But it isn’t the only emotion you remember from last night. The Skittles ad made you laugh. Laughter is the emotion of Joy. Love and Joy. “What else?” you ponder.

You remember somewhere somebody told you the opposite of Love isn’t Hate or Anger, it is Indifference. Isn’t that the truth? In advertising, you tell yourself, Indifference is probably the worst thing of all. You need to make people feel something, anything.

Yes, even Anger. Anger is a powerful emotion. So is Fear. You start slowly shaking your head, grinning, as it all becomes clear to you. This whole political season was all about Anger and Fear. Both campaigns ran on Anger and Fear. They used powerful emotions to get people to act.

Just then the car behind you honks its horn, startling you. You want to be angry, but instead you laugh. You’re so lost in thought over this new concept you didn’t realize the light had changed.

As you accelerate through the intersection you recognize your new revelations are consuming you. You make a promise to yourself that when you get home, you’ll put this aside until at least after dinner. But for now, you’re ready to call it.

Principle #4: Speak to the Heart

Love and Joy (laughter) and Gratitude and Hope and Anger and Fear. Strong emotions that can set your advertising apart from the rest. Especially Hope. The Audi ad still playing in your mind was, on the surface, about equality and fairness and empowerment, but you realize those are all subsets of Hope. The ad triggered your love of your daughter and hope for her future.

If you can make somebody feel something, they are more likely to remember your ad. You figure most companies would choose Love or Happiness or Hope. It isn’t like a political campaign where Anger or Fear can get you to vote against something.

You’re just about to wrap up this thought, but something is nagging at the back of your mind. You think to yourself, “If I didn’t have a daughter, would that Audi ad have hit me as hard as it did?”

You voted it your favorite, but not everyone did. One guy ranked it in his bottom five, saying he was tired of hearing, “the same liberal, political crap in advertising.”

“It’s damn near as bad as the Oscars,” he grumbled.

You pull into the drive. After dinner you promise yourself you’ll look into that a little more closely. As you put the car in park, you go over your list in your head one more time.

  • Most Ads Suck
  • The Message Is More Important Than the Media
  • Don’t Look or Sound Like an Ad
  • Make Only One Point
  • Tell a Story
  • Speak to the Heart

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Up next … Chapter 7 – Speak to Your Tribe

Chapter 1 – Most Ads Suck
Chapter 2 – It’s the Message, Not the Media
Chapter 3 – Don’t Look or Sound Like an Ad
Chapter 4 – Make Only One Point
Chapter 5 – Tell a Story


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