Fundraising lesson from the most annoying ad ever

If you’ve ever looked at your own fundraising at inwardly shuddered at how unattractive it is, congratulations! You may have a winner on your hands.

There’s a strong inverse correlation between the likability of a message and its effectiveness.

Read this recent article in Forbes: Is The Most Annoying Super Bowl Ad Ever Also The Most Effective?

A 2009 Super Bowl ad for CareerBuilder (you can see it below) has been called the one of the “most annoying ads of all time” and even “the worst ad ever.” Critics and ordinary viewers alike really hate this ad.

But guess what: Research has found that the ad is “one of the most engaging Super Bowl ads [ever] studied.”

What’s up? The way people consciously react to marketing and they way they really react are often completely different:

… self-reporting and conscious reactions are often very different from non-conscious reactions. People who say, “I hate that” may, at the same time, be riveted by the content. They may even identify with it, as in this ad portraying workplace frustration.

Fundraising is often that way. You may have noticed that your strongest campaigns are the ones that generate the most complaints. And that the work everyone in your shop loves falls flat in the marketplace.

The people who made the CareerBuilder ad knew that it was more important to engage with viewers than to be “liked” by them. So while everybody was piling on how awful the ad was, they were crying all the way to the bank. They accomplished their real goal of generating response. Not the fake goal of being “liked.”

Learning the difference is one of the keys to success in fundraising.

Here’s the ad. No kidding — it’s grating:

Or watch it here on YouTube.


Comments

4 responses to “Fundraising lesson from the most annoying ad ever”

  1. Patti Saunders Avatar
    Patti Saunders

    I guess there’s something wrong with me. I thought this ad was hysterically funny. I loved it.

  2. Patti Saunders Avatar
    Patti Saunders

    I guess there’s something wrong with me. I thought this ad was hysterically funny. I loved it.

  3. I’ve seen bad commercials (which can also be successful), but this was not one of them. I agree with Patti. This was hilarious, and I’m certain that’s why it worked so well. To your larger point, though, I agree completely. I’ve seen it again and again. What WE as individuals like is rarely effective in fundraising.

  4. I’ve seen bad commercials (which can also be successful), but this was not one of them. I agree with Patti. This was hilarious, and I’m certain that’s why it worked so well. To your larger point, though, I agree completely. I’ve seen it again and again. What WE as individuals like is rarely effective in fundraising.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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