Spence is an engagement ring retailer with locations in BC, Alberta and Ontario. They advertise heavily on radio, a medium that puts Jones’ flamboyant, purring voice – which also howls bizarrely – on centre stage.
The ads are intensely irritating. Jones intends them to be intensely irritating. Perhaps as a nod to the Facebook page dedicated to getting him off the radio, he says in a current ad: “You hate the ads. You’ll love the stores.”
Or, the ads are charming and funny, depending on your personal taste. The best evidence that some people find them charming and funny is that the ads just keep on coming, countless times every day, month after month, year after year. So it is only reasonable to assume that the ads are actually prompting some listeners to visit the stores and buy a ring.
Other listeners wouldn’t be caught dead in a Spence store, for fear of being surrounded by goofball employees – or worse, having to explain to the woman you love, in the seconds following the most serious thing you have ever asked her, that her ring comes from that clown on the radio.
But Jones is no bozo. Instead, his buffoonery betrays branding brilliance. His strategy is not unlike that of Abercrombie and Fitch, which has an in-store environment that many people despise: nightclub-dark, loud music, cologne-soaked air. The haters, of course, are the people – parents and the otherwise uncool – Abercrombie doesn’t want in the store in the first place.
Branding, as a discipline that is fundamentally about positioning, recognizes that you can’t be all things to all people – so you can’t turn everyone into a customer. Provocative messaging like that of Spence is an effective way to help the non-believers – the people who aren’t on your wavelength – go away.
So you can concentrate on courting the cohort you can actually get to the altar.
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