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July 2004

Comments

thebullhorn

I am no fan of the Mr. Six campaign. His resembalance to E.R.K. is too striking. I created a *parody* webpage after I was insisted to do so. http://www.highvolumemedia.com/PopCulture/SpecialEdition.htm

Being from the Midwest, all we have is Six Flags (previously known as over Mid America). I remember how it was before the corporate *synergy*. The 6 flags were US, MO, IL, Great Britain, Spain, and France (if I remember correctly). Now my favorite rides are sponsored and renamed. Mr. Six's face is plastered *everywhere* and I mean *everywhere* with that god-awful music. His theme song even plays in Universal Studios park where I have just returned from. That's a great park! I want to know about the "hidden costs" talked about. Could you list some examples?

pat Cain

What Mr. Six is attempting to embody,is children,kids,teenagers tend to live in a never never land until they reach maturity,they don't know any thing bad or harmful if their lives are going as they should,the let's party approach is an attempth to capture that fun living ever happy side of childhood and give it back to all those children. Naturally Six Flags is the winner in this situation,while increasing not only profits but also safety,ie.tempoary closing of Kinda ka,for repairs during the height of the season,All companies should be so fun loving oriented,while still making a profit,cheers,Pat

pat cain

This Mr. Six blog,just goes on and on,some like him,others hate him,or,are they just not quite ready to party? Anyway so long,happy blogging

Shane Bruegger

I want to be like Mr. Six. I'm ready I turn 40 this year and I am purchasing velcro shoes, a one piece coversuit with a brass buckle and I'm in the fast lane with my blinker on. My son thinks Mr. Six bears a striking resembalance to Edgar Ray Killen the 80 year old Ku Klux Klan member. Da Dat Dat Dat Dat Da Da Da

Skywriteing

All in all, our opinion has no bearing. Does Mr. Six bring in revenue? Long or short term, the only important thing is does he "work." I love the old guy, but I doubt he will be there, so the answer is no, he doesn't work. I'd love to see him dance in person and I know he won't be there if I go.

Cassidy Jayne

Laura,

I'm a day late and a couple dollars short so please, forgive me.

Your article is a good read but off target.

Mr. Six is a great character, he's lively, he's surprising, his psychological gesture of crossing over to "the other side" of youngesters is a hoot. I've yet to meet or chat with a person who did not find him enduring and/or appealing.

With regards to Six Flags flagging attendance records, look to Six Flags and it's management, not the ad(s). This is coming from one who lives literally down the street from a Six Flags (ATL).

'Nuf said by me.

Steve Portigal

My point about the angry boy was not whether people identify with him, my point was that the explictly stated promise of the beverage is that by consuming it, you will avoid feeling like the angry boy.

It's not aimed at 2-year olds; I think you completely missed my point, but hey, it was almost a year ago, so what the heck.

pvaflcio

Well, Six Flags could have a much bigger PR problem then Mr. Six real soon. The workers who put the rides together have just walked off the job. One of the union reps for the workers says that he's been told that "Six Flags has resorted to using landscapers and security guards to reassemble the rides."

See http://www.pvaflcio.org/node/659

le duh

It's not the advertising, it's the park. It blows. Mr Six is great, I've got a mousepad from six flags with his goofy mug on it and "It's playtime!". But the parks are just going downhill and people know it.

It's simply six flags losing to competition because they don't really care to compete anymore. There are better things to do than getting your head bruised on a batman ride that hasn't been touched up since it opened.

becca

thats so wrong mr. six is the best thing ever everyone wants to be like him he is so cool and the we like to party song makes it awsome i love mr. six and he rox

Bill Denneen

The "king" of failed advertising icons has got to be Burger King's Herb the Nerd. Remember him? Nobody, and I mean nobody wanted to be like Herb. I think Larry "Bud" Melman (another old memory) tried to be a pitchman for something or other, also without success.

Mr. Six does represent some of the product attributes, but the viewer has to take a cognitive step to get there. I think it's better to get the brand image across instantly, with little or no cognitive processing for the viewer to get the point.

The best ever? The Marlboro Man, without a doubt. He painted a picture of the brand--rugged, individualistic, strong--that instantly bonded with the image that Marlboro smokers have of themselves. Whatever you thinkk of the product and cigarette advertising in general, this has got to be the greatest brand icon of all time.

B. Church

This campaign is clearly not aimed at the hot-topic-encrusted slipknot fans in the mall-sprawls of america for several reasons. These are the same people who went when Six Flags was with Ackerman & McQueen as an agency and had no real advertising whatsoever. They're moreover interested in reinviting those who find other avenues of family entertainment. Gatekeepers, moms+dads 35-45 and their 6-12 y.o. kids who absolutely *love* this brand icon. Teenagers don't really like much of anything in advertising, especially a campaign this overt.

As their PR department says, Mr. Six represents the spirit of six flags. An octogenerian who can move like that despite his age is forever young and is therefore a pied piper to people of all ages.

The reason it's not viewed as creepy is because the tone is so lighthearted it's really difficult to take anything seriously, because Six Flags would like it if you didn't take things so seriously.

Doner Advertising can't do much about the park experience satisfaction being as low as it is, only Six Flags can do that.

Yvonne DiVita

Hey, I love the old guy. But, my kids (21, 23, 26) hate him. Go figure. They're the Six Flags consumer market, not I. I never go to amusement parks. So, on that premise, I guess the ads fail. One over 50 lady gets a kick out of them, but the target market finds them creepy. Six Flags needs to talk to its market. We all need to get into the heads of our market... marketing needs to focus more on the psychology of the consumer than on the entertainment factor. Funny commercials (and I think this one is funny) stay with the viewer, but for the most part one doesn't take away the brand name...just the joke. Therefore, the joke needs to be relevant to the market. Guess this one isn't, but I still like it.

bg

(Should have been 'my 14 and 15 year-old teenagers.)

Bg

(Meant to say 14 and 15 year-old teenagers.)

Bg

Advertising type jerk here. These spots may lead in recall, but a lot of annoying spots have as well. It doesn't make them better or worse than other ones, just remembered.

I am really turned-off by these spots. They smack of another brand trying to be 'hip' with this bizarre, dated vaudeville-like creepy guy dancing to outdated sports-arena theme songs.

Curious to see where the appeal lies here. Because after watching these with my 14 and 15 teenagers, (they're too old for me to dance around with afterall), they had the same feeling. Most of the rides are geared towards thrill-seeking teens and young adults, so why are these spots so homogenized and cute?


Jed

I don't think that Joe Isuzu was a campaign that "did little to help sales" for Isuzu. Isuzu was introduced in the US market in 1985, and by 1988 they were the top selling imported SUV in the country. Joe Isuzu was their only ad campaign of any real substance.

jerry

I'm sorry, but you advertizing types are a bunch of jerks, always shoving product down the throats of the unwitting, with all your corporate jargon, and in the end you don't really KNOW whether an ad campaign is selling the product or whether the economy is better.

Whatever, you can go around calling this ad campaign a "failure," while those of us with any humanity dance around with our children singing the theme and emulating the old fart.

Michael Chaffin

Laura,

Great job....excellent post. I couldn't agree with you more, and just about everyone who has commented thus far.

Even the Mickey Mouse commentor made the unintended point that ads don't sell products and services....products and services do. And, as I justify continuously at *Star In The Margin,http://michaelchaffin.typepad.com/star_in_the_margin/, Service is King! Start with a great product, deliver it in a memorable way, and you will lead the market all day long!

Andreas Duess

I am not so sure if Mr Six isn't succeeding in embodying the product. Especially when you see kids in the playground doing the Mr Six dance (Urgh).

Personally I agree that he's a creepy old bugger I wouldn't want to see within close proximity to anybody's children but the market seems to think differently. He's fast becoming a celebrity. And like it or not, he is pulling Six Flags with him.
I apologise for repeating myself here but I still think the issue is with a product that's suffering from a bad public persona, not with the commercial itself.
I also agree that the commercials aren't anything special. I've seen the 'waterfall out of car door' scenario a couple of years back in a viral commercial for, I think, Toyota. They are workmanlike rather than inspired.

Scott Miller

Laura, I almost agree with you, but with a small expansion to your premise:

It's not necessarily that consumers need to identify with an icon, but that the icon needs to convey the proper, compelling message about the product or service. In the case of Mr. Muscle, for example, it properly conveys the strong cleaning power of the product. In other words, the best icons capture the positioning essence of the product.

I absolutely agree that Mr. Six is a failure in this regard, while Micky Mouse is a success.

BTW, I'm a long time fan of both you and your dad, and I thank you again for recently sending me a signed copy of your book, The Origin of Brands, which I wrote about on my blog: "This'll soon be added to by biblical list of must-reads below. Well researched, well written, and a deep well of insightful observations that divulge how powerful brands are created. (*****)"

I credit much of my company's success, as one of the most financially successful leaders of the video game industry, with positioning's many principles. It's given us a giant edge verses our competitors.

BTW, I'm also an investor in Cilatro's, a new restaurant being covered by BJ in The Start-Up Chronicles, a blog you've listed on your site. BJ is one of my many converts to the power of positioning. ;-)

Laura Ries

Let me address some of the comments to my post:

1: I'm not so sure that the kids don't identify with the angry Fukigen boy. I have a two year old boy and he quite enjoys being grumpy and angry sometimes. Especially since it annoys his mother.

2: People don't always have to want to become the actual icon itself, but they need to identify with it. Mickey Mouse is friendly, fun, and family. All things that people aspire to and identify with when visiting the parks.

3: We are talking about what the best visuals, messages, and spokespeople are for the advertising. What will sell the parks? I still believe it is not Mr. Six. Mr. Six is pure advertising as entertainment. Shocking, funny, memorable but little relevance to the brand. Remember the Dell Dude? Same thing, advertising success but did little for the brand. Then of course the Dell Dude got caught with drugs giving Dell an easy way out of ending the campaign.

4: I totally agree. The biggest problem at Six Flags is probably the parks themselves. Broken equipment, dangerous rides etc. No advertising no matter how good will solve that.

5: But what I find troubling is that people are lavishly praising the advertising. People see the advertising as successful because everyone is talking about it, remembers it and Mr. Six is now a celebrity. While the advertising has built the Mr. Six brand it has not helped the Six Flags brand. Famous advertising does not equal a famous brand.

6: The key to advertising is reinforcing a motivating reason to buy a brand. Wal-Mart and always low prices. Target and cheap chic. Disney and family time. Subway and low-fat.

Thanks for your thoughts! There is lots to say on the subject and I'll be sure to talk more about it in future posts.

Tom Asacker

I would LOVE to agree with you on this one Laura. I find Mr. Six a creepy little guy as well.

But, if you want to discover the "real" reason people are avoing their parks, punch this into Google: "death at Six Flags."

Andreas Duess

I disagree. Your audience doesn’t need to identify with your icon, your icon needs to embody the virtues of your product. Visitors to Disney’s parks don’t identify themselves with a giant talking rodent, they go because they know that they will be having a good time, that the parks are clean, safe and family friendly. The mouse embodies and focuses all of these values into one easily understood and approachable package.

Advertising is littered with successful ‘anti hero’ campaigns. Hamlets cigars come to mind, Tango soft drinks (have you been tangoed?), Skoda cars, Mr Muscle. If you believe Laura, none of these campaigns should have worked.

The real reason why the ads aren’t pulling punters through the doors is far simpler:

"The parks are in trouble, many have complained about broken rides, shabby-looking equipment, and hidden costs."

The product needs fixing, not the ads. Get the product right, communicate this, then run the same ads again. I guarantee that the results will be quite different.

Steve Portigal

Just a side comment - it's really wild that "be like " is not a universal. Here's one example - http://www.asahiinryo.co.jp/fukigen/ - a drink from Asahi called Fukigen that sells in Japan, that features an angry boy. The slogan of the drink is that the beverage will make sure that you do NOT end up like this boy. It's selling the opposite - avoid this result. Obviously, it's a cultural construction to sell that way. I undestand the Swedes announce 3% fat and not 97% fat-free, similarly.

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