Arnie The Armadillo

31 October 2009

Creativity in B2B Marketing? No way! Rooting for Arnie the Armadillo

by Freddy Tran Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango & B2B Rabble Rouser…

He’s violent. He’s funny. He’s different from anything you’ve ever seen in business insurance advertising — or imagined you’d ever see.

He’s Arnie the Armadillo, the new mascot of Britain’s Kingsbridge Professional Solutions (KPSol). And it’s creating quite a stir among business-to-business marketers….

But, first, watch for yourself:

Sure, it’s taking some creative risks. But you know what’s even riskier in business? Being boring and having no one remember you.

KPSol is not the first B2B marketer to take a risk — nor even the first insurance company. AFLAC’s duck has significantly increased awareness and sales of a dry product. Quick: can anyone name another company that sells supplemental insurance? Though more consumer-oriented, GEICO’s cavemen, gecko, and talking pothole have actually made an insurance brand likable. (Gasp! The horror, the horror!)

Now consider all the free coverage that KPSol (who?) is getting because of Arnie. Would we be talking about KPSol, or even know who they are, if they used a stock photo of smiling suits in a boardroom, or stock footage of an elderly couple holding hands on the beach? (Excuse me hile I purge my mind of those stock visions.)

B2B marketing isn’t end-of-life consultation; it’s business. As in money. Fame. Golf outings. Holiday parties.

The “rule of boredom” in B2B marketing was imposed long ago by stuffed shirts who didn’t have a creative bone beneath their suits. In order to get promoted by stodgy bosses, young minions perpetuated that rule. There’s no logic to it — just corporate politics.

An armadillo, in fact, is a fitting symbol for business marketers who curl up in a ball and hope that whatever makes them nervous goes away.

B2B buyers are human, believe it or not, who also happen to be consumers in real life. Some actually do things like go to movies and dress up for Halloween. Unless the stagnant office depicted in “The Office” (harsh British version) is our ideal of business nirvana, then we business marketers need to lighten up.

I hope that the vibrant, fun-loving new generation of marketers will put this false-notion of “business must be gravely serious” to rest. That’s one end-of-life consultation I endorse.

Update 2/15/19: Sadly, I just learned that Arnie was killed off, not by the hazards he faced, but by cautious, boring executives.

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Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches graduate-level marketing communication courses at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

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