Marketing messages at multiple levels

Today is podcast day on my content calendar, and I decided upon a title for my next podcast before I even started recording it.

The title? “All clear for an IPO.”

When I selected that title, I knew that 100% of the listeners would discern that the podcast had to do with some company’s initial public offering.

And I knew that 5% of the listeners would understand the significance of the word “clear” in the title.

And I additionally knew that 1% of the listeners would understand the significant of the word “all” in the title.

If you listen to the podcast episode, you’ll understand the significance of these two words, if you didn’t already know their significance.

This is an example of a marketing message that works at multiple levels. Some people will take the title at face value, while others will discern deeper information.

Personally, a lot of my writing is like this, with dense links to illustrative material and occasional phrases that have multiple meanings.

But what happens when a marketing message has multiple meanings and the marketer doesn’t know it?

I am a lover of comedy, and one of my favorite comedy groups from the 1980s is the Pet Shop Boys. Now you might think of the Pet Shop Boys as a music group, but you’re wrong. The duo is actually an accomplished comedy group, with their comedy present in their musical, visual, and lyrical output.

Musically, seek out the Pet Shop Boys’ recording of “Always on My Mind” and compare it to, for example, Willie’s version. Tongue is firmly in cheek here.

Visually, I can sum things up in two words: Chris Lowe. While Neil sings away in videos or in concert, Chris has perfected the fine art of standing there.

“We had a video director once who said I stood still very well,” Chris informs me proudly. “It’s not easy, you know. A lot of people can’t do it. It’s an art form.”

And how about those lyrics? On the surface, songs like “Opportunities” sound like the lyrics came from a Thatcherite manifesto, but anyone who was aware of the currents in United Kingdom politics in the 1980s would obviously know that the Pet Shop Boys didn’t really mean that. Right?


I wonder how many Allstate insurance customers are singing along with a song dripping with sarcasm.

However, I suspect that Neil and Chris enjoyed making a quick pound off of an American insurance company. After all, they got lots of money in return.

…the duo’s U.S. Top 10 “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” has entered (Billboard) magazine’s Dance/Electronic Digital Song Sales chart at No. 5, after appearing in an ad for Allstate Insurance that aired during Super Bowl LV…

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