Using Normalcy to Identify With Your Audience

Remember how Seinfeld was categorized as a “show about nothing” and that alone seemed to make it a popular sitcom among the masses? Perhaps it was because, aside from the comedic twists and nearly everything Kramer was involved in, it was a show about normal people in normal (and often awkward) situations.

This sounds very boring at the start, but it can work. Even in advertising.

madden-nfl-13-coverEA Sports proved this last year when they launched a campaign for Madden 13. The campaign was a simple one: NFL star Ray Lewis and much-loved comedic actor Paul Rudd were portrayed as best friends and long-time Madden rivals. The commercial became fairly popular and were amusing in a way that is hard to explain.

But let’s try to explain it. What made these ads work?

Well, it’s no secret that the Madden series of games tend to attract a male audience that includes men in their 40s. Ten years ago, this may have seemed bizarre, but the Madden franchise has sort of rewritten those rules. The commercials acknowledge this by having two grown men sitting in a couch and zoning out in front of a video game.

Cool points are also added when you consider the fact that these two well-known men—stars, if you will—are no different than any other Madden player.  There is smack-talking and good humored insults galore.

The entire set-up is a way to relate to the target demographic. The ads identified with the audience using two famous figures that most of that demographic probably knew. Would the ad have worked if Ray Lewis had have been dumped and another comedic actor had been used instead? It’s hard to say. Paul Rudd insulting a man of Ray Lewis’ stature is funny in and of itself.

Sure, the impact of the ad was likely missed on older generations but that’s not the point. Madden knows it’s likely not going to get the over 50 crowd or the teen girls that are playing Dance Dance Revolution.

The ads worked because they knew their target audience intimately. And rather than assault them with brazen football images and taglines, they instead offered them an almost intimate portrayal of two grown men enjoying multiple games of Madden.

In the world of branding, the ability to identify with your target demographic in such a way is invaluable. If your company can begin to tap into this sort of magic, you’re definitely on the right track.

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