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Most television and radio advertising for automobile insurance is ineffective — not because “advertising doesn’t work” but because most people who create TV or radio commercials (or just a single radio commercial or TV spot) simply don’t know what they’re doing.

Both radio advertising and TV advertising sell with pictures. On radio, the pictures are painted in the listener’s mind; that’s known as “constructed imagery.” On television, you present the actual pictures — or what is known as “eidetic imagery.”

But whether you call them “eiditic images” or “constructed images” or just plain “pictures,” those pictures need to tell the story of how your automobile insurance will add to the consumer’s life.

Both radio commercials and TV commercials rely on pictures to tell the story…including this commercial from Australian television…

If you’re unfamiliar with this commercial, there’s a good chance you’re not quite sure how the story connects to the advertiser. (Well, because of the title of this article, you probably can guess what the advertisement is about. But without that….)

They’re advertising automobile insurance. But if I hadn’t just pointed that out, there’s a good chance that five minutes from now — or perhaps five seconds from now — you wouldn’t be able to tell me what this commercial was trying to sell.

You’d remember something about the women stopping, eyeing the guy, and then driving away. And maybe people in a call center somewhere. But not car insurance.

Why not car insurance? Because their pictures don’t sell auto insurance.

Instead, they vainly attempt to communicate the actual sales message with a voice over. The idea is that because his shoes were so dirty, the women wouldn’t let him in their car. From the visual images, it looks as though his shoes don’t look good enough.

But the announcer poses the question, “Do you really love your car?” So the viewer is expected to realize, “Oh. Those women think that guy is hot, but his shoes are so dirty they’d mess up their car. And if they take such good care of their automobile probably they want to have good car insurance.”

If you want viewers to see THAT story, you’ve got to paint it with pictures, not with a voiceover.

Auto insurance be advertised successfully on radio and TV — when the pictures sell the results of the insurance.

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