Marketing Innovation: Avocados & the Unification Tool

by Drew Boyd

Marketing Innovation: Avocados & the Unification ToolThe Unification Tool is a tricky but effective advertising tool. Unification recruits an existing resource and forces it to carry the advertising message. That resource can come from within the medium itself or within the environment of the medium. In other words, the tool uses an existing component of the medium or of its environment in a way that demonstrates the problem or the promise to be delivered.

The tool is one of eight patterns embedded in most innovative commercials. Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues describe these simple, well-defined design structures in their book, “Cracking the Ad Code,” and provide a step-by-step approach to using them. The tools are:

1. Unification
2. Activation
3. Metaphor
4. Subtraction
5. Extreme Consequence
6. Absurd Alternative
7. Inversion
8. Extreme Effort

There are two ways to use Unification. First, take the medium (television, billboard, radio, and so on) and manipulate it so that some feature or aspect of the medium carries the message in a unique way. The second approach works in the other direction – start with the message, then look at the components in the consumer’s environment and recruit one to carry the message in a clever way.

Here is an example of manipulating the medium:

Here are two examples of starting with the message and recruiting a component into carrying that message. What is very innovative about these commercials is how they have “fused” the message with the product itself – the avocado.

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Drew BoydDrew Boyd is Assistant Professor of Marketing and Innovation at the University of Cincinnati and Executive Director of the MS-Marketing program. Follow him at www.innovationinpractice.com and at https://twitter.com/drewboyd

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