Tom Cruise and lizards: Hollywood’s double demos


Yak about community all you want, most marketers still target people with one-way communications, and the bull’s-eye in that target is called a customer demo. Demographics are vital, you see, because humans have vastly different interests … yet commonalities among age, income, home location, and psychographic affinities abound. Look across the street at the neighbor and you’ll find he or she probably dresses similarly to you, has similar appliances in the house, about the same size TV, may go out to your favorite restaurant. By identifying target descriptions, marketers are more likely to achieve higher response.

Yet … targets can overlap, and some advertisers rarely consider this. Is it possible to hit a double demo?

Hollywood is hip to this. We’ve seen several examples recently of sharp marketers reaching out to more than one audience. The film “Knight and Day,” with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, offers spies, romance, and cartoon action — something for mom, dad and the kids. The rush of Pixar animated films, with double entendres for grownups interspersed with digital graphics for tots, hits more than one button. “Transformers,” “G.I. Joe,” and of course the multi-billion-dollar-hit “Avatar” — the first film to top $2 billion in revenue — all appealed across demographic clusters. The film industry knows the only way to make it big is to hit more than one type of consumer. You could suspect the rehabilitation of Tom Cruise, post Oprah-couch-jumping Scientology-interviewing (we’re not judging, people, all religions deserve respect but oh people tuned out) required a severe multi-demo-pronged approach. And hey, we saw the movie with a 10-year-old, and yes, it rocked.

The Geico / Martin example

It’s not easy to hit more than one target with a single arrow, of course. Such marksmanship requires a product with multifaceted appeal, marketing that offers nuances to reach more than one demo type, and media buys that touch different genders, ages, and mindfulness of consumers in different channels. Orchestrating all of this may require Steve Jobsian manic control.

A few weeks ago we were privileged to speak at the DMA Echo Award judges panel, thanks to an invite from the uberpodcaster Bob Knorpp, who hates Tom Cruise, and met up with one of the principals of The Martin Agency, the fast-track group responsible for the brilliant cavemen and eyeball-dollars for Geico. After we asked the obvious question — “Does that lizard thing have a British or Aussie accent?” — we then dug in on the media plan. Geico, you see, is running several creative campaigns at once. “Of course we try to reach more than one demographic,” the Martin bloke told us, “because insurance has broad appeal, and we have to reach different consumers at different stages in their lives.” (We paraphrase wildly, but chill, this is just a damn blog.) So Geico launches several major creative prongs, tests individual creative elements in small markets, measures lift in response and awareness, and rolls forward like a giant board game. Geico, and its Martin gurus, have learned it is possible to target more than one type of human.

So here’s a mind game: Next meeting you’re in where everyone is drilling in on the one, single, perfect demographic target, ask: “Hey, what if we go for two or three types of people at once?”

Footnote: The man from Martin wouldn’t divulge the real lizard accent. But that’s OK, Wikipedia tells us there are an estimated 2,000 different species of geckos worldwide. Maybe, those clever lads at Martin are targeting more than one accent at once.

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