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Insight: Edgy Ads Help Small Businesses Stand Out from the Crowd

(From The Washington Post – May 12, 2012) There’s nothing new about edgy and unconventional advertising. For small businesses, though, the decision to adopt an off-kilter ad campaign represents a calculated risk.

Given a tough business climate and stiff competition, however, it’s a risk that more small business owners appear to be willing to take.

Tacky Ads Drive Sales
Wodka Vodka was a low-priced new product trying to break in to the hypercompetitive U.S. spirits industry last year. With no corporate parent, its North America distributor Panache Imports had high hopes — but a small marketing budget.

To make a strong impression quickly, Panache decided to take a big risk with the brand’s advertising.

Rather than mimic existing liquor ads that featured movie stars, glamorous party people, or elegant photos of the bottle, Wodka went in another direction. It ran billboard ads in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles that looked intentionally tacky, and it used headlines that made fun of the fledgling brand.

One such ad showed a goat wearing a hat with the headline “Escort Quality, Hooker Pricing.” Crafted by the Miami Marketing Group, the ads were meant to convey that while the vodka tastes as good as more expensive brands, it’s a more hip — and less expensive — choice.

For Wodka, the risk paid off. The cheap-looking ads hit the right note with both the media and the nightclub crowd. News reports called the brand a sign of the recession; clubbers liked its indie, anti-establishment identity.

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