We were overjoyed when he was able to come home from his station in Saudi Arabia for the birth of his daughter Cooper that December. My mom, sisters and I went to the airport in Nashville to greet him as he disembarked from the plane. As we started walking through the airport to get his luggage, we started noticing something interesting. As other travelers noticed Gerald in his Army fatigues, they began standing up and applauding, shaking his hand, and saying “thanks.”
Imagine my surprise when Anheuser-Busch ran a commercial a few years ago depicting a very similar scene: soldiers, wearing fatigues, being applauded and appreciated as they walk through an airport. I got tears in my eyes every time I saw the commercial – and still remember which brand ran the commercial, and it hasn’t been in the advertising cycle in years. (See it here if you missed it.)
If you are going to invest in advertising, whether a major television spot or a tiny print ad in your local circular, you can take a couple of plays out of Anheuser-Busch’s book. First, create an emotional experience. Seriously, I don’t know how anyone can resist getting a little misty-eyed seeing that commercial and thinking about our troops and their sacrifices. Second, strike a chord by expressing appreciation –whether it’s for our troops, or for hardworking stay-at-home moms, or to our pets for being man’s best friend. There’s always a way to appreciate your target audience. Chances are they’ll return the favor by buying your product – and hopefully becoming a repeat customer. Last, don’t make a big play for your brand. There’s not a single beer in the commercial, just an Anheuser-Busch logo at the end of the spot. You’ll be rewarded for your restraint by gaining respect for your brand.
Take a minute to thank our veterans today. They are the reason when we tuck our kids in at night we know they are safe. Lucky us.