Marketing the Minutiae: Can You Ever Pay Too Much Attention to Detail in Advertising?

When people think of public relations and marketing, we like to think the images immediately conjured are straight out of Mad Men: sophisticated, tailored suits and carefully assembled outfits, elegant afternoons spent sipping cocktails, and instantaneous, campaign-creating strokes of genius. While this does indeed represent about 90% of what we do (no, not really), we wanted to share some thoughts on the life and work of a marketer that you might not glean from certain TV programs.


The catalyst for these thoughts was, of all things, a Wind Mobile advertisement…


As you see in the (apologetically low quality) picture, it was a storefront advertisement featuring three mobile phones. As I looked at the phones, my eye was drawn to the one on the far right; specifically, to its displaying a time of 9:53, sunny weather, and a 6 degree temperature. It occurred to me that none of this information was there by happenstance, but rather that marketers, designers, and the client specifically chose this information, because they thought it would resonate with the individual who would, in turn, want to purchase that phone. Perhaps they thought the phone was perfect for the ‘go-getter business person’ who is up and checking their phone in the single digits of the ‘am’ – but does so on their terms, not too early in the morning or at regimented, specific time like 9:45. The choice of displayed apps on this particular phone (email, address book, stock ticker, bluetooth) would certainly seem to be directed towards a business person, unlike the other phones, which might be targeting youth with their text messaging, music, and game apps.

I found myself imagining the conversations that must have taken place around deciding what time and icons should be displayed on the various phones. It’s likely that these conversations may have even got a little heated, with individuals making strong cases for something so minute as why the Android phone should display a Facebook app instead of Youtube.

I started thinking of all the times that we, at Laura Murray PR, have agonized over some minute detail (which, admittedly happens a lot), in an advertisement, press release, or commercial, and realized that this is something that everyone in advertising, public relations, and communications does. As marketers, we fixate on fonts, colours, spacing, verbiage, and the most minor components conceivable, in every every piece we create.

This attention to every last detail ultimately leads to one single question: “Will anyone even notice?” As an immediate follow-up, we often ask: “Do they need to notice for it to work?” Or in other words, does someone need to actually catch all the apps on the phone to associate it with business, or can this be intuitively registered at a glance?

While we can’t provide a data-backed answer, our belief is that the subtlest details can have an astounding impact on the final result. In the same way that masterful brush strokes can change a painting, or an emotionally charged gesture can alter the depth of choreography, we believe that the tiniest details can greatly affect the way marketing is perceived and experienced.

With this in mind, we challenge our readers to start looking for these details in the ads you see everyday. It can prove to be a fascinating and rewarding intellectual exploration. Happy hunting!



Categories: Musings