Like nails screeched across a chalkboard. Like sitting in rush hour traffic on Friday afternoon. Like the moron who takes up the last two parking spaces in the lot. Like the mom with the double-wide stroller in the mall on Black Friday. Like the idiot in front of you at Starbucks who insists on talking on his phone and is not ready to order when he’s at the front of the line.

That’s how I feel when I hear annoying and obnoxious radio commercials. Like this one:


There’s a Mitsubishi dealer in my region that has similarly annoying ads. His tagline is, “We Get You Done.” That line is repeated frequently through the :60 spot. There was a time last year when Platinum Mitsubishi ran an ad that said they were proud to have been named one of the Top Five most annoying ads on the air. I didn’t bother to verify whether the claim was fictional. But when I heard it, I thought self-reflection is good… but Platinum did not change its ads. They got more obnoxious.

There’s also a used truck dealership in the area that has a person yelling “Woooooooooooooooo!” (pronounced like Pooh in Winnie the Pooh) throughout the :60. Given the incredible demand for used vehicles right now, it’s shocking to me that Dean’s Auto Plaza has a lot full of them.

Each provocateur of these spots claims that his business is booming. Maybe that’s true. Maybe it’s a fable in order to convince themselves and others that their annoying strategy works.

I’m not certain that I can pinpoint the many ways these types of commercials make me shake my head, gnash my teeth, and… change the channel. They certainly assault one’s senses, but as a copywriter and a storyteller, that’s what chaffs me the most.

In an article in The Financial Brand, it makes an argument that irritating ads work better than funny or entertaining ads. The rationale is that an entertaining or funny ad is often forgotten within 24 hours. For example, it cites several Super Bowl ads that stimulate colleagues around the water cooler the next morning to rave about the commercial, except they can’t remember the company that it was for. Whereas no one forgets, “Clap on, Clap off, the Clapper.”

This could be a lengthy post, but I’ll try to keep it tight. Is it a coincidence that the three entities that annoy me with their ads are all car dealers? Probably not. Buying an automobile fills a utilitarian need. The annoying ads are Transactional, in other words they strive to motivate those in the market for a vehicle to take action… sooner than later. An automobile is a high-ticket item, and the Internet provides vast opportunities to conduct research before you even walk onto the car lot. These business owners aren’t interested in how their ads make you feel, they simply want to motivate you to buy from them instead of the other guy.

This approach, in my opinion, fails in the long run because annoying ads fail to achieve a number of critical objectives.

First, annoying ads fail to build a Brand with substance. These annoying ads, essentially, are getting you prepared for the next Fourth of July Sale, or the next Special Sales Event, or the next big thing in that sales cycle. If you’re not in the market for a car or truck, these types of ads repel the majority of consumers who might need something else these dealers offer. Perhaps a car owner is searching for a dealer who can provide extraordinary maintenance service. This potential customer wants a reliable, quality outfit that can change his oil and rotate his tires and diagnose potential problems before they become big problems. He or she is most likely going to be turned off by the obnoxious ads. So while those ad campaigns might result in a reasonable ROI from a sales standpoint, there’s a good chance they’re losing out on another entire segment of their business.

Second, the desired outcomes from a great Branding campaign are that potential customers know you, like you, and trust you so that when they are ready to purchase whatever it is that you sell, yours is the first name that comes to their mind… for all of the right reasons. Obnoxious ads certainly get prospective customers to know who you are, but they neither develop fondness for you nor instill trust in your brand.

Lastly, obnoxious advertising prevents you from doing the most significant thing you can do to address the first two points – you’re not telling the important stories that will build a substantial brand that customers know, love and trust.

For example, Mike Dorazio is the owner of Platinum Mitsubishi and owns multiple locations. If you take five minutes to do a dive into Dorazio’s personal story, you’ll find out a lot of compelling information. His father died when Mike was four years old, and his life went sideways. At 18 years of age, he was released from a detention home with no path to success. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps and turned his life around. The life skills he learned as a Marine have shaped how he runs his business. It’s an inspirational story that, if told properly, would generate more business than he could handle. He also has a strong story about giving back to the communities in which he lives and works. Another reason people would love to do business with him.

Small business owners have a choice when it comes to developing their marketing communications. It doesn’t matter if you use radio and television advertising, billboards, direct mail, or Facebook ads… do you want to be the company that makes potential customers cringe and drive past your operation, or the one that has a line through the parking lot and onto the street?

If you want to be known, loved, and trusted, a team of Wizards can help you accomplish that goal, just give me a shout.

Latest posts by Dave Salter (see all)