Common sense. It just makes sense.

Dave Trott recently posted on the notion of radical common sense. As always, his thoughts are well worth reading.

It has often occurred to me over the years that what are frequently held up as “breakthoughs” and “game-changers” in advertising and marketing are little more than the triumph of pure common sense.

Nike. Just do it. Of course. You sell athletic wear, motivate athletes and would-be athletes.

Got milk? Milk and cookies go really well together. Who could disagree?

Target. Affordable design for all. who doesn’t want nice stuff that’s well made and costs less?

Of course the problem is that sometimes people resist doing what is subsequently revealed to be the obviously smart thing for various reasons. You can well imagine the California milk board wanting a campaign that touted the health benefits of milk (noble but not exciting). a slightly higher road than acknowledging the reality that milk is really comfort food. or the ideal partner to many comfort foods.

and it’s easy to imagine nike just touting the various wonderful features of their shoes and clothing. and i’m sure it made a lot of people at Target’s lives more difficult now that they had to go out and find ever cooler stuff to put on their shelves. “can we just sell the cheapest stuff?”

it’s a lot easier to delude yourself that consumers are rational calculating machines that will respond to the “correct” stimuli, than to deal with the messy gooey reality that is humanity. yes, people use the calcium of milk to give themselves permission to gorge on cookies and milk. but that’s not the real motivating factor. just as nobody drinks beer purely for refreshment. or because of the hops used to brew it. they drink it to relax with friends. that’s the real motivating factor.

When you deal with the realities of things and are brutally honest about what motivates your customers, common sense solutions are the only solutions. but it’s a mistake to confuse common sense exclusively with rationality…if that makes sense.

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