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The Laffer Curve of Branding

2010 July 22
by Eric Horowitz

Lindsey Robertson attempts to discern why the Old Spice Guy’s popularity hasn’t led to an increase in sales.

The Old Spice ads were so successful in raising brand awareness that no dude wanted to have a bottle of the stuff in his shower. The funny ads actually gave the product embarrassing or negative connotations.

I think something slightly different is happening here. Advertising works best on a unconscious level.  We see a product and want it without consciously realizing it’s because advertising has made us associate the product with a successful sex life.

But when advertising is too successful, when consumers recall an ad so well that its messages are consciously contemplated, the desire to not be manipulated by advertising takes over and sales fall.  Call it the Laffer Curve of branding.

This may be what’s happening with Old Spice.  Somebody having positive thoughts as they contemplate buying an Old Spice product will be conscious their affinity is due to the advertising campaign. At this point the desire to avoid being manipulated kicks in, and the person chooses a different brand of body wash.

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