For this blog post, I’ve been asked to write about chapter four of “Made to Stick” by Dan and Chip Heath. This chapter talks about credibility of a story or campaign. Even if a campaign really does have significant information behind its message, if it isn’t presented in a way to show credibility, the message will not be effective. Statistics, for example, only aid in the zoning-out process of a reader or listener. However, if stats can be applied to life-like contexts, the example is more human and everyday, making it easier for a person to remember and be affected by the information. Another typical problem with credibility is the process of matching this humanizing technique with the information so it actually makes sense.
One example of a campaign ABSOLUTELY FAILING at this is the the “Above the Influence” campaign. One of the most laughable ads is the one of the three boys walking up to a horse and pulling its tail so it will kick them. Two of the boys say, “Watch this, it is so cool,” while the other boy walks away.
The problem with this ad campaign is that being kicked with a horse has nothing to do with smoking marijuana. You won’t get kicked by a horse if you smoke. You won’t have the same effects that the boys have to their knees if you smoke. Getting kicked by a horse has NOTHING to do with smoking marijuana.
Most of the other “Above the Influence” ads are similar in this way. To avoid this and make it more credible, the foundation could think about creating an ad campaign mocking the Mac ads. Have two college students talking in front of a blank background about what they did that weekend. The non-smoker discusses hiking, running, getting homework done, visiting friends, traveling or going to a concert. Meanwhile the college student that smokes will talk simply of smoking, eating and sleeping. They could even brag about never leaving the house.
This kind of an ad is credible because those who have smoked and know that the effects don’t include a horse-kick to the knees, will take this ad seriously. The ad with the horse may make people laugh, but it is in no way going to make someone live “above the influence.”