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Monday, January 22, 2007

The Law of Diminishing Returns

Think back to 1989 when a little fuzzy rabbit carrying a bass drum outlasted other similar toys to illustrate that Energizer batteries outlast all other brands. At one time, like you, I thought what a cute commercial. Now, every time I see that stupid rabbit I'm torn between running to the bathroom to vomit and running to the garage to get my shotgun and go rabbit hunting.

At some point during the last 17 years I have seen too much of this stupid rabbit and now I intentionally buy Duracell in hopes that the bunny will be shelved for a new ad campaign. I even dreamt up the idea of suing Energizer because while the bunny keeps going and is even now being used to jump start a flying saucer, but you never see anyone change the battery. To me this sounds like false advertising when they imply that one battery can last 17 years. I've got some emotional trauma somewhere I'm sure I could dig up.

But, Energizer isn't the only ad campaign that has lived it's life. Many just don't take 17 years to annoy you. Take the recent Dodge Ram commercials where the Rock 'em Sock 'em Robot punches the Dodge truck and looses because Dodge is too tough. The first time I saw this, I thought, "Ha - that's kind of cute. Makes me miss playing with that toy. I wonder if I can still find one of those on eBay." After seeing the commercial, oh I don't know, say 3 thousand times a day, now I think I want to get my Toyota truck and run over the stupid little robots.

Repetition in marketing can be good, but too much of any one thing can be bad. Especially when they show it 4 times in 19 minutes as they did during the BCS Championship Bowl Game.

Paul Farhi assesses the situation pretty well in his Washington Post article where he makes reference to the Law of Diminishing Returns.

Most small businesses don't have to worry about this directly because your marketing budget is probably not going to allow you to run your commercial on a continual loop during prime time programming. However, your message, while you should live, sleep and breathe it, should not always be the first thing out of your mouth. Relational business is how small business is conducted today. So take time to ask how their personal life is before you turn your branding efforts into the next Energizer Bunny that no one wants to hear about anymore.