Targeting our message to our audience is how we advertise and market. We develop a marketing strategy and create the message that talks to them directly to evoke an emotional attachment so they take the action we are seeking from them. The message is the core of the brand and for the audience to create a positive image, it has to meet their wants, needs, desires as well as their performance levels and show a benefit to them.

Targeted Messaging

The message is created for the audience. The audience has to be receptive to receiving the message, pay attention to the message and then react. They have to clearly understand what you wish for them to do as if they are unsure, they will not react or take action. In advertising though we know that the message is not only received by the target but by those that are not the intended target. The unintended target did not always ignore this message and in some cases, helped the brand to reach the intended target.

AT&T Text Messaging Documentary

AT&T has created a ten minute documentary about the dangers of texting and driving. There documentary takes you on an emotional journey as there are the stories of those killed while texting and driving, the incredible loss and guilt the person who sent the fatal text lives with each day, the texter who killed, the innocent passenger whose life has changed for ever as well as the impact it  has upon everyone involved. It is very powerful as it does not just take one side of the issue of those that are killed. The texts are simple, may times one word. One word that changes a life in an instant.

The Unintended Target

This message is targeted to those that text the most – teenagers. Teenagers are spending countless hours texting. The amount of text messages teenagers send per month is estimated at over 3000 or 6 texts per waking hour. They are texting so much that it has become a part of their lives. They are dependent upon their phones to interact and engage. It is alarming. Now, as someone who prefers the text message to the telephone, I can relate however, the dangers are not falling on deaf ears here. This message, according to the stats on YouTube, show that despite over 900,000 views, the views to not appear to be by the targeted audience. The documentary is most popular with men 35-54 and women 45-54. These are the parents. The parents who were the ones who opted to get and give the phone to their teenagers. The parents are not necessarily the unintended audience as the parents provide guidance and are able to take the phone away from their kids (I hear many “I hate you” when this happens) but the parents are watching to understand the dangers but those are are texting are not.

Bridging the Gap

The gap between the intended and unintended audience is not an easy one to bridge. We have seen this with the message of the dangers of drinking and driving. Despite the warnings, knowing people who have lost their lives at the hand of a drunk driver, there are still too many deaths and arrests. In Las Vegas alone on New Years Eve, there were 68 DUI arrests. 68 people who had options that they did not consider (they are of course innocent until proven guilty in the court of law). The dangers of drinking and driving and that there would be check points, numerous police patrolling looking for the drunks, these people chose to consume alcohol and drive. We know that they have heard the message. The message did not have an impact. They ignored it and did the opposite of what was asked of them.

The Opposite Reaction

In drinking and driving we see every single day where the act taken is the opposite of the intended message. The risks and repercussions are not being considered.  The it will never happen to me is what is considered. And, let’s face it, many times it does not happen to them.Will we see this with the texting and driving message? The message in this documentary is strong. It is emotional to watch the young man struggle with every day life and know that he is not “normal” anymore. Will that have enough of an impact to emotionally connect and we will see a decline in accidents caused by texting and driving. I have a hard time walking and texting so texting and driving was never an option.
Is your message reaching the intended target? Is the unintended audience influencing the intended?
photo credit: pinboke_planet