A few weeks ago NPR did a weekend edition story on how Americans don’t fall for hype during a crisis. The story highlighted that a President’s approval ratings can be greatly impacted by actual behavior – what exactly is being done to solve the crisis at hand NOT the message being spun by the handlers. In particular, it delved into Obama’s approval ratings as he deals with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the NY Times Square terrorism plot.
This is NOT a new concept nor is it one solely owned by politicians. It’s what evidence-based marketing is all about. No one can argue the importance of a concrete, well-thoughtout positioning statement and subsequent messages to your key audience, but if your constituents can’t find the beef you’re dead in the water.
You have to support the ‘spin’ or the messaging through substantiated actions. No huge fluffy bun is going to hide a bad/ineffective product, service or behavior that falls short of its promise. We want – no, we demand that claims (by companies, politicians, public figures) be supported by actions that we can measure.
Way back when – 1984 to be exact-, Wendy’s did just that with their iconic “Where’s the Beef” commercial. They validated their ‘spin’ by letting us know that their one beef patty was bigger than McDonald’s and Burger King’s. Measureable? Tangible? Absolutely. Did any of us actually measure it? Probably not. But we BELIEVED it and got a fun message to proliferate to boot.
Don’t under-estimate the importance of the marriage between message and proof. If something exists but no one knows about it, does it matter? Or, can you just get by on telling people what you want them to believe? Each side of that equation is critical to the outcome.
Clara Pellar, the elderly actress who famously uttered the gutteral roar “Where’s the Beef?”, has been gone a long time…. and not to pick on Obama – (because the article includes the likes of Bush and Carter as examples of the behavior-does-not-equal-the-message equation)…, but I think her ‘prescient-twitter-ready’ line is an invaluable and timeless reminder to us all.
Always a fanatical data collector – sometimes to the chagrin of others – I am a big believer in evidence. What’s worse is that I expect consistency as well. Ever in the pursuit of holding my MarketingSmack to those same standards – hoping my effort is graded on a curve.