By: Chip Haskell, Associate Creative Director
Not long ago, a friend of ours named Jens called us up and asked if we would help him market his camera shop. The conversation went something like this (keep in mind that Jens is originally from Denmark and has a noticeable Danish accent)….
JENS: Hi guys. Do you want to maybe help me do some radio advertisements?
US: Sure Jens. We’d love to. Why radio?
JENS: Because radio is what I want to do.
US: Great. We’ll come over tomorrow and visit with you and get things going.
JENS: Okay. Bye.
The next day, we drive to his camera shop – a one-location business called Pictureline in downtown Salt Lake – and sit down with Jens in his office.
US: Jens, are you sure you need to advertise? I mean, we just bought about a bajillion dollars worth of external hard drives and camera equipment from you last month.
(We laugh. Jens doesn’t.)
JENS: Yes, and thank you for your business – but you know the margins on that kind of stuff is uh, pretty minimal.
Now, it’s not that the joke is lost on Jens – he’s our friend and a really funny guy. It’s just that Jens is very serious about the business of running his business. And thus, marketing his business is serious business.
Out on the sales floor, of course, it’s a different story. Out there, Jens is carefree – helping customers, training staff – talking to people about his passion for photography. Put a camera in his hands and his face lights up and he wants to teach you everything about that camera. He wants to share. He smiles. He laughs. He makes you laugh. He talks with his hands. His passion is genuine… and contagious.
But right now, Jens is solemn-faced. He’s serious about his marketing:
JENS: I want an ad campaign that tells people not to buy from big box stores and that we have the best prices in town and that we have free photography classes and that we are fun and friendly.
US: Gotcha. We’ll go back to the agency and get to work.
Jens walks us out. The moment we cross the threshold of his office door, his whole demeanor changes. He’s no longer Super-Serious-Jens who’s super serious about his marketing. He’s now more like the host of a great party who’s thoughtfully walking you to the door to make sure you know that he appreciates the fact that you came. His warm, sincere handshake says it all.
As promised, we head back to the agency and get to work. Days go by. We have a few good ideas – and lots of bad ones – but nothing that feels fun and friendly in a way that Super-Serious Jens would like.
And then it hits me.
We need to use Jens in the campaign. But not Super-Serious Jens.
We need to use Fun, Friendly, Helpful, Passionate-About-Photography Jens.
We write some spots. Each one has Jens at the center – telling personal, funny, self-deprecating stories that end up highlighting a particular aspect of Pictureline.
A few days later, we return to Jens’ office to present the campaign. I read the scripts out loud, reading the part of “Jens” – intentionally exaggerating and butchering his Danish accent – knowing full-well that Super-Serious Jens takes incredible pride in having shed much of his accent over the years.
Jens starts to laugh. A couple of staff members poke their heads in. They start to laugh. Jens picks up a couple of scripts off the table and reads them cold.
The more he reads, the funnier they get.
JENS: These are great! I can’t wait to get these produced and on the air!
The spots are funny. They’re friendly. And they’re memorable.
And they’re something both Super-Serious-About-Marketing Jens and Super-Passionate-About Photography Jens approves.
The big point?
Just because you’re super-serious about your marketing doesn’t mean your marketing has to be super-serious. And as silly and obvious as that may sound, you’d be surprised how many marketers forget that.
P.S. Now in it’s third year, Jens’ Pictureline campaign has been a hit. Customers bring it up in conversation, his staff loves it, and it’s won a few awards like “Best Radio” and “Best Copywriting”. And, according to Super-Serious-Jens – it’s even helped sell a few cameras.
You can hear a few of the spots from the campaign here: