Most TV commercials don't catch my eye. For, some reason, this one did. Maybe because the pitch wasn't obvious. Nor the company behind it. 

I watched a little girl try and fail to get her family to build a snowman. She then followed two cats to a magical place called the Time Shop, where she learns about "lost time," "time that flies"... and "together time": "The best kind, (because) it can make memories that last forever."

And she learns that together time is the one kind of time you can give.

Content marketing is great in concept but extremely hard to execute. It's tough to create innovative content that attracts an audience. It's tough to create content that effectively tells the story of your brand. It's tough to create content that helps an audience connect with your products or services.

Effective execution is especially difficult when content marketing involves a "this" for "that" proposition: An opt-in, tie-in, or incentive designed to prompt an action.

In theory, the offer benefits both parties.

Yet in this case the benefit for Chick-fil-A isn't obvious, aside from positive brand association. The opt-in is creating a custom Time Card -- a commitment to spend quality time together -- that you can send to anyone you like. Specificy the person you wish to give a little together time, and Chick-fil-A will print and ship the cards to U.S. recipients for free.

What does Chick-fil-A get in return? Email addresses, sure... but other than that, the quid in the pro quo is not obvious, especially since a future "unsubscribe" is only a click away.

That's basically the point: A national survey showed that 93 percent of respondents felt quality time together is the single most important ingredient in creating favorite holiday memories -- ahead of gifts, parties, food, etc.

And which is why I found myself creating a Time Card for each of our two grandkids -- even though I'm one of the least likely people to opt in to anything.

Why? Kids love getting mail. Kids love plans and predictability. Eli, our five year-old grandson, will be excited to know he can redeem his Time Card for a few hours of football, coloring, and Mario Kart with Pawpaw and Gran. He'll definitely hold us to it.

Easton is almost two; while he won't understand the premise, as my wife reminded me, it's important for Eli to see his brother get a card as well.

Most of all, the gift of time is a gift we're happy to give -- and even more likely to give now that we've made, in effect, a deal.

Which is also the point. Busy lives derail even the best of intentions; it's easy to think, "I want to spend more time with the kids," but sometimes hard to actually pull off.

But now I'm committed.

In a good way.

Which is the last point. No one thinks, "Gee, I can't wait to see some ads today." Ninety-nine percent of people don't like ads. 

The other 1 percent? They hate ads.

Great marketing starts with doing what you do best: Helping people. By meeting a need, solving a problem, fulfilling a desire... and doing so in a way that draws people to you, attracts rather than annoys.... and leaves people feeling good about your brand.

If only because they didn't feel "sold."

Which makes the Chick-fil-A ad my favorite ad of the year -- because I feel like I got a lot more than I had to give.

Published on: Dec 9, 2019
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