Dodgers ad: How to Get People to Imagine Themselves As Your Customers

I saw this Dodgers ad at a 76 gas station in LA. I took the photo through the front windshield in the car when my friend was getting gas. 

This ad gets you – the audience – to visualize what it’s like to sit in the exact seats that are pictured here. The ad looks deceivingly simple, but it’s a brilliant use of psychology in marketing.

Research shows that visualization is a powerful psychological technique that helps people perform better at a task when they imagine themselves going through the motions.

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Psychotherapists and athletes have using visualization for years. Jack Nicklaus, one of the most accomplished professional golfers in historysaid: “I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp in-focus picture of it in my head.“ 

What’s impressive about this ad is that a brand, the Dodger’s franchise, is getting people to visualize themselves as a customers who buy a ticket and go to a Dodger’s game.

How?

1. Because of the perspective of the photo of the seats, I’m sitting here looking at those seats, and I can imagine myself sitting in them. 

This ad is probably great at targeting couples. I happened to be at the gas station with a friend, and I thought, "Oh this could be fun. We should go to a baseball game together.” Usually when you’re at a game, you only talk to the person next to you, so the ad reflects the nature of that experience. It’s just you and your date, or group of friends, sitting in a row watching the game. 

2. The message – both the text and image – is simple.

This ad is pretty straightforward and there’s only so much you can look at. There’s the message copy, the Dodger’s logo, and the seats. The uncluttered layout does a good job of focusing the customer’s attention.

3. The ad uses the word “free” and high contrast colors in an elegant way.

The word “free” is always a crowd-pleaser, but sometimes it can look tacky. It can offer the impression that the brand is selling based on price alone, which is okay for some product categories. Typically though, brands want to stay away from leading with pricing as a main message.

Here it’s done elegantly and it stands out even more because of the high contrast between the red and blue. 

Studies in the psychology of color show that high contrast color combinations are effective. For example, a website did A/B testing on a website that had a green color scheme, and found that changing the call-to-action button from green to red (a high contrast color) significantly increased click-through rate. 

[Edit: A blog reader shared that the Dodger’s jerseys have the player’s number in red, with the team logo in blue. So this ad is actually even more clever because it’s a nod to that format and adds an additional layer of meaning.]

4. It stands out from most stadium ads, so it attracts attention.

When things look different from what we expect, people tend to remember it more. In psychology, this is called the Von Restorff effect - it’s the bias for remembering things that are unusual or stand out in some way.

Usually sports ads feature a panoramic view of the stadium, a few testosterone-charged baseball players in action, and fans wearing jerseys and waving foam fingers.

Not this ad. This is ad stands out because it presents a different view. 

It’s just two seats. You and your +1. Who would you take if you got a free ticket? Your girlfriend? Your buddy? Yes, that sounds like a good idea. Now go inside the 76 store and talk to the clerk about buying one of those tickets….

Visualization. If you can get your customers to do it, to imagine themselves buying from you, you are that much closer to a new customer.

UncategorizedWes Kao