A typical day for a college student is dynamic and filled with activity. Whether they are in class, studying, playing sports, or partying (sorry mom and dad, but it does happen), college students are usually busy with something. Unlike those in the workforce, the day-to-day schedule of a college student is always different. This means the time they have for relaxation or leisure is short, and not at the same time each day. College students don’t watch as much TV as you might think. For advertisers looking to reach students through television commercials, it is important to make sure that ads grab their attention in a positive way. There are several pitfalls of TV advertising that brands want to avoid if they are targeting the college market.
If there is one thing that tops the list of commercial pet peeves, it’s a terrible song. Putting too much singing in a commercial is a great way to make it cheesy, and doesn’t resonate with college students. A short, catchy jingle is one thing, but having an obnoxious song from a TV ad stunk in their heads while trying to pay attention in class or study in the library does nothing but drive students up the wall. The last thing a business wants is to have its audience associate the brand with an annoyance. If you are going to put a song in a commercial, lean towards the humorous side rather than cute or catchy. Students respond well with funny, not irritating.
Sex sells, but don’t over-do it
There’s no denying that students and youth pay attention to sexy ads, but brands need to be wary of going overboard. There can be a fine line between sexy and trashy, and ads that appear class-less will just turn students off or cause them to see the ads as a joke. A commercial that is too overtly sexy can also turn corny very quickly. Commercials for perfumes or body sprays can often be seen as humorous by students because they are trying too hard to be sexual, and being laughed at when you aren’t trying to be funny isn’t a good thing. Remember, sexiness can be about subtlety and still make a big impact.
Many brands try to grab attention by showing ads with animals, usually in a setting where they are talking or doing other human-like actions. These can be very hit or miss. For college students, talking animals can seem juvenile, causing the brand to miss its target. Ads with talking animals can also easily become corny. However, there are success stories with animal ads such as the Bud Light talking chameleons. What it really comes down to here is the quality of the commercial’s script, and if the ad is relevant to the brand.
Cheesy can work
There are cases in which having a cheesy commercial can work in a brand’s favor. Take the Snuggie®, for example. Their use of an infomercial-style commercial was so corny that students found it hilarious, and actually started purchasing Snuggies as a joke. There are also ads that are overly cheesy or corny on purpose. A great example of this is what Old Spice did with their commercials featuring “The Old Spice Guy” Isaiah Mustafa. They were so over-the-top corny that people knew it was a joke and found them incredibly funny, creating one of the biggest-ever viral sensations for a commercial.
So what do you think? Leave a comment telling us, through your experience as a marketer or commercial viewer, what types of ads simply don’t appeal to students and youth, and which ones really work?