Brand Messaging: Do You Talk To Your Real Customer?

30 Second Sales Seminar

Did you see the 30 second sales seminar on reaching the real decision maker during the Christmas shopping season?

Insights for the Complex Sale

The lesson came in the Rad Mom TV spot pitching the Nintendo Wii.   The commercial provides valuable insights for any company that needs to impress a group of people in the sales cycle, whether you’re flogging video games or a multi-million dollar software installation to a major corporation.


A Contrarian Work of Genius

The commercial is a contrarian work of genius.  It steers clear of the standard, predictable script used in most video game commercials.  The usual approach is to focus on users and fuel adolescent males’ rabid cravings for super hero combat and napalm explosions.

These flashy, but run of the mill commercials (like this promo for the Xbox Crackdown 2 game) do a good job of getting kids excited, but by no means win the sale.  Frequently they set the stage for ill-fated lobbying efforts and family conflict.


Here’s the scenario they create: excited teens with fire in their eyes and testosterone pumping through their bloodstream put the latest video game at the top of their gift list.  They expect their parents to become infected with their enthusiasm.  But it doesn’t spread.

The Real Customer

Instead they run into the objections of Mom, who barring an intervention by Santa, determines what presents make it under the tree.  Mom is very powerful.  She makes more than 80 percent of household buying decisions.  As the holder of the purse strings, she is the video game makers’ real customer.

Tough Objections

But asking a Mom to buy a video game is an uphill battle.  A lot of Moms, maybe even most Moms don’t think highly of video games.  Do any of these complaints sound familiar?

Video games promote violence.  They turn teenagers into zombies.  Kids lose all track of time, playing them for hours on end.  Homework gets neglected.  Grades suffer.  Kids emerge from a gaming binge showing aggressive, anti-social conduct.  Video games foster addictive behavior and erode our family dynamic.

These are tough objections.  Most video game makers don’t equip their users to refute the real decision maker’s arguments.  All they can do is hope that the teens have the necessary dogged determination, debating prowess and whining skills to wear their parents down.

Doing the Unthinkable

The Wii commercial removes the need for this family strife by doing the unthinkable.  It makes Mom the star of a video game ad.  It proactively answers each of the motherly objections, using Rad Mom as the spokesperson.

The Real Customer Becomes the Star

The spot opens with the very attractive, genteel Rad Mom having a coffee conversation with the camera in her spacious, nicely decorated kitchen.  She is surrounded by a poinsettia, a nutcracker figurine, a Father Christmas doll and an advent wreath.  Dressed in a cozy-looking snowflake ski sweater she diffuses the poor family dynamic objection by proclaiming “Family time is Wii time in our house.”

The commercial then cuts to the living room, where Mom, Dad and two young teenagers are on the couch engaged in head-to-head Wii competition.  Rad Mom is having fun.  She is good at Wii.  First she triumphs over her daughter in a quiz show bomb game.  Next she smashes her husband to oblivion in ping pong.  Finally Rad Mom gallops over her son in a horserace.

A Jubilant Cry of Conquest

With each victory, the mild mannered coffee conversationalist breaks from her refined demeanour into a jubilant cry of conquest.  She stops just shy of spiking the Wii control into the carpet and trash talking her competitors.

Why all the excitement?  Because in the Rad Mom’s house, Wii is a high stakes game.  The model family isn’t playing for money, but for something far more valuable in Mom currency – chore assignments.  Winners get free time.  Losers do extra work.

Transforming the Product’s Essence

With her Wii success, the Rad Mom got her daughter to do the dishes, her husband to make dinner and her son to put the laundry away.  The commercial transforms the essence of what a video game is in the eyes of Mom.  Wii is not the enemy of family values, it is the platform of honour for Mom, the real hero of the family.

What could be better for a Mom than to emerge from her underappreciated support role and delegate a few household tasks?  It just doesn’t get any better than this.

“Everyone’s a Winner, Especially Me”

In her final appearance, Rad Mom is back in the kitchen, observing that with Wii “At the end of the day, everyone’s a winner, especially me.”

The commercial then closes with special holiday pricing details on Wii systems.

Great Entertainment & Great Example

The Rad Mom commercial is great entertainment and a great example for companies that need to appeal to different levels and roles in a large corporation to make a sale.

Many of the B2B companies I’ve encountered follow the Xbox Crackdown 2 advertising approach.  They focus their brand persona and messaging on the user.  They excel at talking techie to techie, but the message isn’t meaningful to the real and often hidden customer in control of the budget.

Stymied Sales Efforts

Solid proposals enthusiastically supported by users get rejected in the corner office because they don’t address the right issues.  The executives don’t get excited about the product features and buzzwords that wow users.  “Innovative, next generation, cutting edge solutions” are as appealing to the CEO as rocket powered gas canisters are to Mom.

The sales efforts of user-focused brands often falter at the upper rungs of the corporate ladder.  Have you ever had a sure-fire pitch shot down by a nameless V.P.?

Talk to Your Real Customer

The solution is to follow the Wii example.  Give attention to “the Mom,” who has the ultimate power to say yes or no.  Craft your value proposition in terms that are meaningful and hopefully irresistible to the holder of the purse strings.

Talk to your real customer.  Make your real customer the star.