In the marketing and advertising industry, targeting specific groups of consumers is what we do best. We identify target audiences, tailor messaging to each audience, and determine the best channels to most effectively deliver those messages. Throughout this process, we have to consider why our efforts should resonate with our audiences, and how they’ll respond. We have to take the time to seriously consider if a concept, headline, or song really fits a brand or product.

I grew up in the 80s, and I have fond memories of the culture and music from that decade. As a Gen X-er, I’ve noticed a recent shift in advertising focus to capitalize on the nostalgia of the 80s. In general, advertisers are playing the right songs and reviving some of the most beloved childhood cartoon characters from that time – but sometimes, they miss the mark.

GEICO & He-Man: A missed opportunity.

One example of a great advertising concept that misses the mark is the reincarnation of He-Man by GEICO Insurance. Although the idea is solid, there is no real connection between the campaign and animated series. Instead, it was tied to GEICO’s existing “Great Answers” campaign, in which characters try to dodge an uncomfortable situation by changing the subject to how much money GEICO can save you.

A more effective campaign strategy might related protecting your property with GEICO to He-Man protecting the universe. I could almost picture him saying, “By the power of GEICO, I have the power.”  Another concept could have focused on He-Man considering trading Battle Cat for a nice, new Harley Davidson and his excitement over finding out how much he could save on motorcycle insurance by switching to GEICO.

I wanted to like this campaign, but ultimately,  its execution came off as a lost opportunity due to a misalignment of endorsement credibility.

Hall & Oates & Applebee’s: A trio that doesn’t vibe.

Here’s another example of an advertising formula that misses the mark: combining something awesome with something not-so-awesome. In my opinion, pairing Applebee’s with an iconic Hall & Oates song does nothing for either brand. This opinion might just be my personal preference – and I apologize to anyone offended by my thoughts on this – but using Hall & Oates to sell sub-par chain food is an insult to one of my favorite bands of all time. If 9-year-old me watching Hall & Oates play live at the Jacksonville Coliseum knew that one day their songs would be used to sell buffalo wings and nachos, I might not have paid $5 to go see that show.

Liking a song simply isn’t enough to change my opinion of a brand I dislike. In fact, the reverse might happen; I might begin to think a little less of a band I love for ruining a classic. Applebee’s simply playing a catchy tune in an attempt to sell endless appetizers won’t make a true connection to its target audiences; the more likely result is the audience thinking “great song, but bad food.” A better fit for Hall & Oates might be to strike a deal with Quaker Oats. Then I’d be singing a different tune… while eating a big bowl of oatmeal.

Don’t worry, Mr. Hall and Mr. Oates, I would never think less of you two ’cause you make my dreams come true, oh yeah! And Skeletor, He-Man, and Battle Cat… you’re safe, too. I’ll always associate you with fond childhood memories, not auto insurance.

Because as the consumer, I have the power.