There was an ad campaign running here a few months ago that basically read like this:
Seafood! Coffee! Rain! We know Seattle!
No. No you don’t.
There’s nothing wrong with localizing a message if it makes sense. But if you’re going to do it, go beyond the very first link that pops up on Google. Would you run an ad in New York that talks about the Statue of Liberty? Or do a campaign in France that features a mime holding a baguette?
In the case of this latest campaign, it was downright insulting. We know you’re new to the city. So please, by all means introduce yourself. Tell us what makes you unique and why you’ll make a great neighbor. But don’t start our conversation with, “Have you seen that Space Needle thing? And do you know they toss fish at your market?” And it’s even more patronizing when you just pop a comma Seattle at the end of your headline and act like you’re suddenly speaking my language. As in, “You can find the best house paint at our giant national chain, Seattle.”
Better yet, talk to people like they’re people, not target markets. Find that universal truth about your product and find a compelling way to tell me about it like I’m a human being, not solely a Seattlelite.
A few years back, we even got a chance to play off some of this pervasive, fake local-ness in a radio spot for a real local company, HomeStreet Bank. Take a listen if you’d like.
And for the record, I drink a limited amount of coffee, don’t like seafood, and it doesn’t rain here nearly as much as you think. But yes, I do still like to watch the fish tossing thing now and again. It’s really cool. And that’s a universal truth.