Lame ads that miss the boat
AMSTERDAM _ Cars park themselves. In tunnels, their lights come on by themselves. Car trunks hold bikes and picnic baskets. The passengers amuse themselves silly. Just look at them enjoy the ride! Car ads invariably stress fun, family or freedom. Compared to that boat ads can make your eyes glaze over. Why is that? A sobering view from an ad man.
Joris van Amerom, an Amsterdam advertising man, told a recent conference of Dutch boat makers their ads are boring. He offered help. “In lean times,” he said “car brands invest in all sorts of financing formulas. Why not boat makers? If you say, ‘Pay half now, the rest later,’ you lower a buyer’s pain threshold. Also, I see little private leasing going on. And why not stress that buying a boat is an investment? In something that’s important to the buyer?”
What boat makers should above all is address the emotional _ rather than the functional _ benefits of boats. It’s not what a boat can do, but what its owner can do with that boat. How does it feel to own a boat? Does it make you feel good? Proud? Sophisticated? Like better father?
Not a yachtsman himself, Van Amerom explored Dutch boat ads and websites before addressing the late May yacht builders conference. He came away unimpressed, he said.
“A boat brand can have a great website but the photos are taken by some kid from around the corner. Pity, because photos can show emotions very well.” He came away surprised by the technical specifications in ads. “What do people want? Freedom? That’s an emotion related to boating! Why don’t yacht builders go there? There is a huge opportunity if builders stress the feeling of boating,” Van Amerom told the conference.
His LaMarque agency measures advertising’s impact on the brain and uses the results to craft advertising and consulting strategies. It works from neuroscience, a fairly new scientific discipline that explores how people react to advertising and enables advertisers to analyze commercially relevant brain data.
Van Amerom told Yacht and Coast: “Like people in the forklifts business, boat builders have always worked with technical specifications. They assume their clients are passionate about that, too. But that’s not true!”
He believes Dutch yacht builders “have been around for so long they have forgotten to tell each other that what they do is actually quite exceptional” given the range and variety of sail and motor yachts they produce. Van Amerom also noted some self-satisfaction. He said it felt like Dutch yacht builders seem to think they are so good buyers will automatically show up on their doorstep.