your target audience: the how-to of resonating

KT blog post pic 3-29-13

it makes sense that you need to resonate with your target when creating advertising, but the real trick hinges on knowing how to do that.

how can you get into the mind of an 8-year old girl, football-watching male, a new mother, a scuba diver, or female sports car purchaser on cue if you’re not familiar with the typical mindset?

here are a few tips that involve immersion:

immerse yourself in the target’s language. if 15-year old skateboarders use the word “sick” as an adjective to describe something they like, and you’re trying to sell skateboards, this lingo is useful to know. visit the websites devoted to your target, read the books written for them, and learn their specific language. if your target is vegan, become an expert on the topic. it’s also fun to pass some time on to see how creatively words are bent for new variations.

immerse yourself in the target’s visual realm. if you’re selling something to a 12-year old girl, and a trend with 12-year old girls is fluorescent nail polish and brightly-colored skinny jeans, then your advertising will feel more authentic to them if it contains bright, fluorescent colors. each generation wants to forge its own signature style, so it helps to understand what that might be.

immerse yourself in the target’s culture. there are specific books, movies, snacks, TV and web shows, videos, and music that define each generation, and the younger the target, the bigger difference a few years can make. 13-year olds will have different tastes than 17-year olds, 19-year olds will have different tastes than 24-year olds, and so forth — so try to be as age-specific as possible if your target is under 35 years old. if you understand the cultural offerings that define a generation, then you’ll know what someone is embracing, rebelling against or indifferent to, which can help with your understanding.

a copywriter is so many things rolled into one industrious and curious person: researcher, character actor, investigative journalist, linguist, editor, platform inventor, fact checker, artist, promoter, and author of both fiction and non-fiction – which is what makes the challenge so thrilling.

do you have any strategies or tips for resonating? if so, send them along!

— kim taylor

creative brief for

the client:

a coalition of 12 high-end mexican resorts, 4 of the country’s best restaurants, and the Aeromexico airline is financing a campaign to reassure luxury travelers that Mexico is a safe, often opulent, and uniquely fulfilling cultural destination and experience. they’ve created a website to that effect –

the client’s target:

upscale travelers (people who appreciate spas, fine dining, historical sites, art and culture)

the creative challenge via alternative advertising:

find a unique way to appeal to the client’s targets


  • Mexico is sunny, warm, welcoming – lots of natural beauty and ruins
  • the cuisine is fresh, distinctive, delicious – both local and global influence
  • architecture, art, music, theater, film, dance and other cultural offerings are unique and sophisticated; world class restaurants, spas and resorts

alt advertising challenges to resonate with client’s targets and draw people to

choose any that appeal:

  1. create a coffee sleeve for what would it say?
  2. if you were going to create a scavenger hunt for Visit Mexico, where would participants go, what would they do, and what would they find?
  3. if you set up a Visit Mexico bus in times square, what would you put inside of it that had an interactive element?
  4. Visit Mexico wants to do something in the lobby of the MoMA to attract upscale travelers, and wants to partner with another brand or brands.  what can be done in that space, and which co-brand(s) would be a perfect fit?
  5. brainstorm a visit mexico cab top in any weird shape imaginable with copy and image.
  6. imagine a bus stop shelter presentation for Visit Mexico, which can incorporate scents, mirrors, odd shapes and architecture (example: for Visit China it could be a pagoda shape).
  7. what kind of fill-in-the-blank print ad can you imagine for Visit Mexico? (example: a Crunch gym print ad could let the reader draw in his or her ideal arms, abs and legs in Fitness magazine).
  8. what kind of Visit Mexico app or phone-based game can you imagine that would resonate with the targets?
  9. just as Honest Tea set up a street “experiment” to see which U.S. city had the most honest residents — by leaving bottles of tea out to grab and expecting payment on the honor system (with a nearby hidden camera) – what kind of experiment could Visit Mexico conduct?

kim taylor

busting ads: what works, what doesn’t

every industry has its assigned seat at society’s table, including advertising, but each has to mind its manners. so although i sympathize with the adbuster mentality, when advertising grates and feels unwelcome, it’s more a case of shoddy strategy, ethics and work than an indicator of advertising as a whole. advertising is a necessity, and it can be a necessary evil or a necessary delight, depending on how it’s executed. whether promoting a local organic restaurant that grows its own food on the roof or promoting a massive global corporation, advertising should be aware of its own PR effect. for example, an alcohol brand that places a billboard in a deeply impoverished neighborhood runs of risk of appearing opportunistic at best, nefarious at worst. when advertising scores only this type of Pyrrhic victory, it needs to excuse itself from the communal table to freshen up before it returns.

when do you think advertising goes too far, or grows tiresome? what campaigns, if any, crossed your own personal boundaries and why?

kim taylor

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