'Relevance' is operative word in 'Catfight' or chip-dip ads

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I've always thought this would be a "perfect" news story: You walk down the street and see a big hole in the ground. Then you pick up your newspaper and the story explains the hole is going to be a 40-story building. It's the perfect story because it's relevant to what you were already wondering about.

That's precisely what's wrong with too much of today's advertising: It's irrelevant to what your everyday concerns are.

Let's address the much-discussed "Catfight" commercial for Miller Lite in terms of relevancy. It's easy to rant about the spot in terms of its blatant sexism and exploitation of the female body in all its pulchritude. I view the ad as a parody of all the sex-inspired beer commercials that have ever run.

Laura Ries, of the Ries & Ries father-daughter consultancy team, has a different take. "Sure, the ad is a parody. And, absolutely, the target audience loves the ads. They love watching two girls rolling in the mud. What they are not doing is drinking Miller. My biggest complaint is [the ad] will do little to help resurrect Miller as a brand. ... Most younger drinkers don't see it as a cool brand. ... They drink Bud Light and Coors Light. The advertising is not going to help because it has no powerful message. The tastes great/less filling is lost and only promotes drinking light beer in general and not Miller."

In other words, as "entertaining" as the commercial is, it's not relevant to beer drinkers. Most young drinkers don't remember the "tastes great/less filling" commercials that established the "light" category so they're not going to connect Miller with that old slogan.

For all their raucousness and frat-boy exuberance, the Coors Light commercials are effective. They show people having an incredibly good time while holding a bottle of Coors. Even the generous use of sexy girls in the Coors commercials is more relevant because they are an integral part of the non-stop partying scene.I guess it would be difficult to show girls both mud-wrestling and holding bottles of Miller beer-unless they were going to bash each other over the head with them. The Coors Light ads worked , but also may promote over-consumption of beer, something beer marketers have pledged not to do. Coors Light's success may explain why Miller Lite felt it needed to go to such over-the-top extremes to register with testosterone-charged consumers.

What got me thinking about this relevancy thing is a highly relevant, at least to me, commercial by Frito-Lay. Over the holidays, I broke a lot of chips in the chip dip. And you can't leave the broken pieces buried in the dip unless it's your own private dip.

So I was very susceptible to a pitch from Tostitos Gold billing itself as "the perfect chip for hearty dips." The commercial demonstrated that Tostitos Gold was thicker than the average chip, and thus able to sustain itself in the heartiest of dips. This, to me, was a perfect ad because I had been brooding about all the chips I had broken right when it came on.

Products don't have to have high-tech features to be relevant. Ford Motor Co.' s Lincoln Navigator is making a big thing in its ads over a retractable running board. If you can get your ads to address consumers' real needs, even if those needs aren't world-changing, they are going to break through the clutter even more than mud-wrestling bodacious babes.

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