It was Mark Twain who noted that “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.” It’s hard to argue with his point, but the Maui Visitors Bureau (MVB) is turning Twain’s wisdom on its head with a new marketing campaign. According to the Aug. 3 Maui News, the MVB has just completed an 18-month effort to make the actual advertising of the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai as small as possible. In fact, the organization is rebranding each island with a single word: “captivating” for Maui; “enlightening” for Molokai; and “enticing” for Lanai.
According to The Maui News article, MVB Executive Director Terryl Vencl said travel agents and marketers love the new campaign. To get the perspective of a professional familiar with the campaign, I recently spoke with Sharon Glazer of the Glazer Group, a marketing firm based in Los Angeles.
MAUITIME: Thanks so much for speaking to us on this subject, Ms. Glazer.
SHARON GLAZER: It’s no trouble at all. I love to talk marketing. I could talk marketing all day long. But you probably don’t have all day to talk marketing, do you?
No, not really. So you’ve seen the new Maui Visitors Bureau rebranding effort. What do you think?
Hate it. Oh my God, I hate it. I really, really hate it. Seriously, I don’t know what they were thinking. Maybe it’s because you guys are way the hell out on Maui, so you don’t have access to most modern marketing techniques and skill-sets like we have here LA, but this whole thing is just cheesy and weak. I’ve seen five-year-olds do better marketing campaigns for their sidewalk lemonade stands.
Wow, okay. So what’s wrong with the MVB campaign?
Well, I could bore you with a bunch of multivariate statistics and flow charts, but that’s probably way too technical for both you and your audience. So I’ll just boil it down to this: the campaign is too wordy.
I’m sorry, too wordy?
Um, their campaign is basically using just a single word to encapsulate the people, culture, climate, geology, history—everything—for an entire island. How is it “too wordy?”
Basically, it runs in the face of everything we know about demographic shifts in attention span. For the 18-34s out there (the only real demographic most advertising is pointed at), they just don’t have the time, energy or desire to put into the kind of research the MVB advertising materials require. Your typical Millennial—someone born after 1980—has the attention span of a butterfly. You can thank MTV, sports drinks, video games, the Internet, whatever, but it’s true. They were raised on quick cuts and pop-up ads, and they have something like 5,000 things competing for their attention at any given time. Seriously, who has time to read a word these days? Do you? I certainly don’t. Hey, don’t get me wrong—I love words. But it’s rush, rush, rush out there, and we’ve got to face facts.
So… how would you fix the MVB advertising materials?
Shave ‘em down to what really matters.
And that is…
Characters. Single key strokes. I don’t know, I’m not on the clock or anything and it’s been a while since I’ve been to Hawaii, but it seems like Maui might be the percent sign, Molokai could be the ampersand and then Lanai could be, I don’t know, the asterisk? No, the island is bigger than that—make Lanai the “at” sign.
I’m sorry, but I’m having a difficult time following you. Are you saying that in an ad for Maui—an ad designed to get people to spend lots of money on a vacation to Maui—you would just have a giant percent sign?
Well, not just. Maybe there’s a picture of a waterfall or a pineapple with the percent sign. Trust me, all of marketing is going this way. Email, text messages, Twitter—it’s all going to abbreviations and hash tags and such. We’re just getting out ahead of the curve. Believe me, I’ve run two-way focus groups on this very subject until I’m blue in the face.
Really? How many people in your focus groups?
Oh, just one.
Yeah, we’re kind of a small firm, so we have to cut corners here and there. A big office over the Miracle Mile isn’t cheap, you know. Anyway, yeah, usually it’s just me.
Wait, you focus group yourself? But you said these were two-way groups, which I believe is where one focus group watches another test marketing or something. How do you do that with just one person?
Oh, I use a mirror.
Okay, then. Ms. Glazer, thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions.
You’re welcome, or as we say in the advertising world, “#.”