October 31, 2009

Creativity in B2B Marketing? No way! Rooting for Arnie the Armadillo

by Freddy J. Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango LLC & B2B Rabble Rouser

Arnie the Armadillo: Striking terror into the hearts of boring marketers everywhere.

Arnie the Armadillo: Striking terror into the hearts of boring marketers everywhere.

It’s violent. It’s funny. It’s different from anything you’ve ever seen in business insurance advertising — or imagined you’d ever see.

It’s Arnie the Armadillo, the new mascot of Britain’s Kingsbridge Professional Solutions (KPSol). And it’s creating quite a stir among business-to-business marketers….

But, first, watch for yourself:

Sure, it’s taking some creative risks. But you know what’s even riskier in business? Being boring and having no one remember you.

KPSol is not the first B2B marketer to take a risk — nor even the first insurance company. AFLAC’s duck has significantly increased awareness and sales of a dry product. Quick: can anyone name another company that sells supplemental insurance? Though more consumer-oriented, GEICO’s cavemen, gecko, and talking pothole have actually made an insurance brand likable. (Gasp! The horror, the horror!)

Now consider all the free coverage that KPSol (who?) is getting because of Arnie. Would we be talking about KPSol – or even know who they are – if they used a stock photo of smiling suits in a boardroom, or stock footage of an elderly couple holding hands on the beach? (Excuse me for a sec while I purge my mind of those stock visions.)

B2B marketing isn’t end-of-life consultation; it’s business. As in money. Fame. Golf outings. Holiday parties. The “rule of boredom” in B2B marketing was imposed long ago by stuffed shirts who didn’t have a creative bone in their bodies. In order to get promoted by stodgy bosses, their young minions perpetuated that rule. There’s no logic to it — just corporate politics.

An armadillo, in fact, is a fitting symbol for business marketers who curl up in a ball and hope that whatever makes them nervous goes away.

B2B buyers are human, believe it or not, who also happen to be consumers in real life. Some actually do things like go to movies and dress up for Halloween. Unless the stagnant office depicted in “The Office” (harsh British version) is our ideal of business nirvana, then we business marketers need to lighten up.

I hope that the vibrant, fun-loving Millenials will ultimately put this false-notion of “business must be gravely serious” to rest. That’s one end-of-life consultation I endorse.

Shameless Plug: Want B2B advertising that’s not boring? Contact Atomic Tango!

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Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

2 Responses

  1. So, where is the risk? The commercial is mildly amusing and illustrates what happens if one does not obey the rules, so to speak, but how can this spot hurt Kingsbridge? It should attract attention and a friendly response, nothing else, in this American’s opinion.

  2. This is just buzz marketing for B2B. As such, it’s great stuff, as twisted and perverse as Burger King’s Subservient Chicken of a few years ago, and bound to get people talking and looking. Not to mention the great self-satire!

    Great use of the Joe Cartoon motif, too!

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