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Reverse psychology and its effect on your conversion (Video)

I’m a big fan of ads made for the Super Bowl. Companies spend millions creating them and millions more to air their 30 second, well, shall we call them masterpieces? In terms of conversion, Super Bowl ads are be pretty genius; they capture the attention of viewers and within 30 seconds (sometimes a whole minute) they tell a story, they inform, they brand and above all, they entertain. But what’s probably more important than any of those attributes, is that the ad attracts customers to call, signup, go out and buy, or at the least look up more information about the product. Otherwise it’s just waste of the company’s marketing budget. The last thing you’d expect is the ad to have a negative effect on your ROI, suck, well, that would just suck!

Case in point; Chevrolet aired a very entertaining ad during the 2012 Super Bowl for the 2012 Silverado pickup. For those not so much in the automotive industry, here’s a quick lesson; the Ford F-Series pickup is the second best selling car in the whole world to date only beat out by the Toyota Corolla (and not by very much). That’s really, really impressive given the fact that the Ford F-Series pickup’s primary market is the United States whereas the the Toyota is sold and marketed globally. With this fact in mind, it should put into perspective how important successful marketing of the Silverado means to Chevy. Even this particular ad takes direct aim at its competition by mentioning it’s competitor during the ad.

To that end, you’d expect the ad to boost sales of Chevy’s bread and butter car, except, it kinda, somehow, not really didn’t. It seems immediately after the ad aired, Kelley Blue Book saw an immediate spike in interest in the Ford on their site and Ford didn’t even have an ad during the Super Bowl this year.

To make matters even worse (for Chevy), Ford continued to see sales increase after the Super Bowl. Interest in the Chevy also saw an increased when the ad aired but then leveled out soon after and even dropped after the game (yikes!). Interest in the F-Series continued to increase however and according to, the F-150 measured an even sharper increase in sales while the Silverado fell off by whole freakin 25%! WTF?

Now, if you saw numbers like the ones Chevy experienced on your own website after making changes aimed at improving conversion, you’d switch them back, like, yesterday! But with a TV ad, you really don’t have that option at your disposal so damage control falls into a whole different ball game (pun unintended). I really like the ad though, and, I guess, apart from mentioning the competitor in a slightly negative light, which is done quite often in ads (see Samsung’s phone ads taking aim at Apple’s iPhone), I can’t put my fingure on what might have caused the unexpected dip for the GM company and increase for Ford.

The only two things that come to mind are either that something else happened in combination with the ad (unlikely as more than 50 million Americans tune in to the game so there aren’t many left doing or watching anything else) or brand loyalty; the Chevy ad reminded loyal Ford customers that they were in need of a brand new Ford pickup.

It’s an interesting discussion as to what the exact cause might be. And even though designing conversion solutions for the web is in a whole other arena, I’m sure there are areas where the two expertise’s cross. Either way, the ad remains entertaining.

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