Advertising with messages that have multiple meanings… Yay or nay?

Have you ever felt sketchy about a text message your significant other sent you? Does the following four word phrase give you a rush like never before?, “We need to talk.” Does it make you think of every possible reason that one would say that to you and make your heart feel like it’s going to pop out of your chest? Well, that’s expected because the phrase can have different meanings…Possibly that your girlfriend has had it and wants to end the relationship or she wants to remind you that she is still in love with you, as if it was still the first day you took her on a date and everything felt like it was a dream. Good news, you are not alone! However, is it clever for a company to use this approach when advertising and is it possible for the message to be received graciously by their audience?

This weekend I happened to encounter one of by far, my favorite unpopular form of advertisement while at the beach in Ocean City, Maryland. Unfortunately, I was relaxing in the water so I was not able to get a picture of it. But, pretty much, it was a banner being hauled by a plane that read “You look hot down there.” The banner had a picture of an iced coffee and of course, the Dunkin Donuts logo. I saw it, and I thought to myself “That is genius!” I thought it was a very simplistic way to compliment a prospective customer and at the same time hint them that they should purchase an iced coffee. Think about it, if you are laying down on a hot summer day in the hot sand, soaking up the hot sun rays, hoping that the million crunches, squats and lunges you did 10 days before your vacation worked, seeing this advertisement is going to unconsciously influence your perception of this company. When did I ever think that an artless flying banner would make me smile as much as this one did?

I read the banner and smiled as I could relate to it. However, on the other side of the spectrum, this advertisement could have well been frowned upon by some of the older generations or simply it could have been misunderstood. Someone could have read it and taken a literal meaning to it and thought “Yeah, I am sweating like never before!” However, because this was a touristy location, I think the message was well received by the audience for two reasons: 1) A lot of them were on vacation and were therefore in a “chill” mode, making them more receptive to a light message, and 2) Because it was the beach, a lot of the younger crowds like to go hang out there and it’s likely that they are able to understand the meaning of the message more easily. I think that even if only 75% of the audience received the message positively, I would have considered it successful.

It was so simple yet so effective, at least for me. I am not sure if seeing it had an impact on my purchasing decisions for the weekend, but I DID have DD every day for 3 days for breakfast, so I guess it did. Overall, I think the company did a great job understanding its audience and connecting the modern day jargon to its target market. Additionally, their timing and location were flawless because it certainly wouldn’t have had the same impact if they did the same thing during the winter or perhaps in another country where people don’t understand that type of slang. I think that IF carefully pursued, this tactic can be pulled off and that was a smart move by Dunkin Donuts.

Thanks for reading!

– Cinthia

iced medium coffee 045


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