fallow field advertising

Microsoft is back on the airwaves, shilling its Zune music player, this time with ads from TAG Ideation:

As adverganza notes, there has been a strategy shift. Apparently, there weren’t enough people who actually owned a Zune player to make the whole file-sharing thing all that worthwhile a feature. Now it’s all about personalization.

Wow, that’s a differentiating strategy.

Creatively, I am so-so on the spot. It is still a little dark for something that, basically, delivers portable enjoyment. Maybe I think it is dark because the human-sized bunnies remind me of Donnie Darko. Maybe it’s the fact that it is pretty dark. Anyway, the ad doesn’t show me anything about the product or about personalization that I can’t get out of my iPod. It shows me the same stuff, only without the iconic and enjoyable advertising.

In addition to the product, the advertising is second-best.

Paul Williams at Daily Fix has an interesting post about something he calls “Fallow Field Branding” that could easily be repurposed to help.

Fallow field farming is a technique that lets farmland stay fallow for a set amount of time so it can recover and be fruitful again. Paul uses it to mean taking time out of brand extensions and store openings and other things that kill brands. I am going to re-purpose it to mean stopping advertising when you have nothing interesting or differentiating to say.

Take time out. Give consumers a break from your dark and weird advertising. Spend the time improving your product so it is at least at parity with your competition. Come back with an uplifting and truly differentiating campaign that tells consumers why you are different and why they should switch.

Even a price message gives me more reason to buy a Zune than the current advertising.

It seems counter-intuitive, but taking time out from advertising when you have nothing to say and spending the money on product innovation is really what is needed here.

Once the product has improved to be something people want to buy, the advertising can tell a good story. Until then, the ads will be what the product is – second best.


2 responses to “fallow field advertising

  1. This makes a lot of sense. All too often clients feel the need to keep pushing a bad product (Zune) because it exists, and then they’re pissed at the agency when no one buys it.
    Even though the reason no one buys it is because it’s a bad product.
    We can look forward to more of these scenarios in years to come as The Real Digital Revolution takes hold.

  2. Pingback: neuf music shows zune how it’s done « the daily (ad) biz

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