Sunday, August 18, 2013

Do Analogies Still Work?


 

This ad about 'Marmite Neglect' is great, but it's copped a lot of flak (over 400 complaints so far) because some people apparently think it's disrespectful.  

I find that quite sad. The subject obviously isn't animal neglect at all, it's just an analogy.

But analogies seem to have a bad rap at the moment.

The current mega-trend is 'reality advertising', and analogy-based ads get called addy or contrived.

In fact I think there may be a broader cultural rejection of analogies going on.

If so, the slide began with Swiss Toni. For anyone not familiar, Swiss Toni was a car salesman character in sketch series The Fast Show, who compared every experience in life - whether it was selling a car or preparing a cup of coffee - to "making love to a beautiful woman". Yes, the sketch was primarily skewering a certain type of sleazy middle-aged man. But I feel it also satirised the very concept of analogies.

I don't know if it's just my imagination - but I get the feeling that analogies are no longer considered an impressive form of argument. I'm sure it used to be possible to win an argument - or at least score a big point - with a witty or clever analogy. But I'm finding they don't work that well any more.

Some people think that if they can find an inconsequential aspect of your analogy that doesn't resemble the situation at hand, then they've won - forgetting that 95% of the analogy is still valid, and an argument that is 95% valid (in the 100% non-scientific world of advertising) is actually a pretty good one.

And there are even people who don't seem to accept that analogies create a valid argument at all. For example, I was once arguing that even though the product we were advertising was inherently appealing, we needed to do more than just show the product, we needed to make the ad itself appealing, and I used the analogy that even though dogs find bones inherently appealing, the dog-owner still waves the bone in the air to attract the dog's attention before handing it over. The response I got was "but our product isn't a bone, and the consumer isn't a dog." 

I'm considering dropping analogies from my life entirely. Like someone you got on well with at school, but don't want to be seen with at university.

10 comments:

JB said...

I've never really liked the idea of using analogies in advertising. I always thought they don't offer any real connection to the product/brand and they were kinda the creative's cheat way to making an ad that lacked any real idea. But what do I know? Each year Cannes rolls around and VW are awarded multiple lions for analogies about reverse parking, side assist or original parts.

Good post.

Matt said...

An interesting observation. I think analogies when used well, still have a place in advertising and there's science to back it up. This article provides some of the reasons why using comparisons and analogies can be a persuasive way to get your point across.

http://blog.bufferapp.com/the-science-of-persuasion#more-6189

julianjwatt said...

So, would we agree that the Guinness Surfers are analogous to the value of waiting for that perfect moment, and comparable to the Guinness experience? This be the case, I might not move so quickly to shelve analogies as a powerful way to describe what are often times, quite basic and unremarkable things.

Scamp said...

Yup 'Surfers' is definitely an analogy, and a brilliant one. Guinness still does them a lot - their Cloud ad was great. But they're one of the few advertisers still ploughing this furrow nowadays, don't you agree?

Anonymous said...

Analogies are a godsend to adland - they offer the best known way to polish a turd of a product into a sparkling gem of an idea that people will part with their $ to have the privilege of consuming. Quite useful for selling loo paper too...

Ahem said...

I've got analogy to cats.
I'll get me coat.

Anonymous said...

Being on O2 is being like a bitch! Uh...dog...I mean cat! No wait...

Anonymous said...

http://www.thegatelondon.com/davetrott/

You were saying?

Anonymous said...

Analogies are dead like dinosaurs.

Anonymous said...

Analogy is a synonym for metaphor. Inability to understand metaphors is a medically diagnosable condition called 'Autism'.

Advertising didn't discover analogies and they have a rich life beyond this little industry, where they may or may not be currently unfashionable.

Use analogies if they work, don't if they don't.

'Who cares if the cat is black or white, as long as it can catch mice?' as someone once said to sell a change in direction of an entire country.