Whenever my family goes on vacation, part of the time is always spent watching “Dirty Job” marathons. At our house we do not have cable, so the Discovery channel is an instant treat for all of us. My three boys and I can’t get enough of Mike Rowe and his gang. Dirty Jobs is one of the best reality shows I have seen, it is simply testosterone in action. It deals with “real life” job scenarios that most of us could never imagine doing, with a touch of, “I am so glad that’s not my job.”
The other day as I was channel surfing the four network stations we get at home, a commercial for Ford comes on. It’s a very simple commercial. Mike Rowe, wearing jeans, a V-neck cashmere sweater, expensive leather shoes and a baseball cap, walks down a “row” of every type of Ford vehicle. All he talks about is the fact that now is a great time to buy a Ford. He stops at the end of the row and slaps his hand down on the Mustang and the commercial ends.
It was like coming out of a trance or daze. I felt like I was in one of those revival meetings portrayed in the movies. I found myself nodding my head, almost muttering under my breadth “Amen”. Can you believe I had an actual physical response to a commercial, nodding my head to the beat? I also found myself mentally declaring, Hmmmmm, a Ford, maybe I should check them out. Sure they are a domestic car…sure they have maintenance issues, but they have good trucks, right? And after all, Mike Rowe just recommended to me that it’s a great time to buy.
All I could do was laugh at myself. I must be the target audience. By hiring Mike Rowe, they were able to use his brand attributes, as a way to down play their own brand weaknesses and magnify their strengths, at least in the eyes of this one potential customer. Every brand has strengths and weaknesses, the goal is to magnify the good and down play the bad. I am not saying hide the bad, or seek to deceive the audience, that never works. Just ask Toyota. But a brand must play to their strengths. Isn’t that the reason for a spokesman? Do spokesmen add value and magnify a brand by infusing their brand onto the brand their sponsoring? Ask Nike, T-Mobile, Gatorade, Sony and now Ford. On the flip side, ask Tiger Woods and Michael Phelps. More importantly, can Mike Rowe convince me to buy a Ford?