Living on the edge

Noel O’Dea’s job begins (and ends) at the bottom. The bottom line, that is.

Ever since we were founded 33 years ago, in 1980, our mission has been to help our clients achieve their business goals—putting bums in seats, making the cash register sing.”

That brand of marketing magic doesn’t happen by accident. Asserting that 95 per cent of advertising is completely ineffective (“academic studies, independent research and marketing results prove that”), O’Dea says that effective advertising is always connected to a strategic compass.

Differentiate, or die

O’Dea’s self-described brand architecture firm always puts science before art: its first step with any client is to immerse itself in four to 20 weeks (sometimes more) of extensive research identifying the market segment which offers the best opportunity for the client. Using proprietary research models and frameworks, Target analyzes all available data for new insights.

The ‘trick’ is to find the one market segment whose needs you can meet better than your competitors, in a way that clearly differentiates you from all other brands. “You have to focus on your best opportunity customer group,” asserts O’Dea. “If you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.”

Once they’ve identified the market segment that has the most opportunity for your brand, Target moves on to brand positioning and brand personality. How should your brand speak? What type of language speaks directly to your ideal market segment?

Only when all of that information is in hand, and not a moment before, does the creative team get involved.

Standing out in a sea of sameness

“We know it’s an over-communicated world,” says O’Dea. “We know that the average American adult is exposed to 7,000 commercial messages a day. That’s why our only rule is to break all the rules.”

Examples of that rebellion include billboards featuring a single bag of chips (or a bottle of pop); tourism ads that use scenery as the backdrop to a colourful story; a barbershop ad that has nothing to do with hair; airline campaigns promoting personality, not seat sales.

There’s a method to the madness. O’Dea asserts that great advertising should be a discovery by the audience rather than a declaration by the marketer. “People are not morons. They like having their brains engaged. They like that little bit of cognitive disruption that causes cognitive processing.

“You can’t buy great campaigns in aisle 44 at Canadian Tire or Walmart.”

Click here to let Noel O’Dea take you through some of Target Marketing’s most creative ad campaigns

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