The “Call of Duty” Targeting Law

The new Call of Duty is out today – according to an excited J-Junior. And apparently, it’s back to its bad-ass best. After a pants edition that nearly dragged them under.

(Some reports say sales dipped by a scary 60%…)

So what went wrong? Well, their intel was too accurate – or rather, they took it too literally.

See, their research told them their average player was 13 years old. So logic told them, “Hey, let’s reinvent it FOR 13 year olds.”


The result was a kiddies’ version.

Now I admit, I haven’t seen it…and I doubt it was full of unicorns and singing purple dinosaurs…but I’m told it was way too soft, and largely hated. All because they missed one big fat furry clue:

Their 13 year old players wanted to FEEL 18. So they were happy with it as was – there was no need to take targeting literally.

I first cottoned onto this marketing “law” back in my school days, when every 12-year-old girl started reading Just 17. It was a magazine for early teen girls who wanted to feel older. So they styled it for 17…knowing actual 17-year-olds would all be off reading Cosmo.

See? Them’s the rules:

Sell to the user’s aspiration – not the real “them”.

As in…if you sell guitar lessons, use a pic of a guitarist on stage – not a novice learning the chords.

Or if you sell hearing aids, talk about an active lifestyle. Use pics of attractive young retirees playing tennis or walking a dog on a beach. Living life! You don’t talk about feeding the ducks. And you don’t show them pics of an octogenarian dribbling gravy.

Dream trumps reality.

This matters. Your product is your customer’s escape pod, a way out of the banal life they lead today. It takes them forward to a “them” they dream of…or back to a “them” they want to recapture.

Call of Duty will tell you, this makes all the difference.

So – what does that mean to you? How will it change your marketing?

Meet the Author

James Daniel

You might not know who James is...but you've probably read his copy. Through high street clients like Hidden Hearing, or big gun marketers like Jonathan Jay and Chris Cardell. His words are out there, pulling in new business every month. What else? Well his books, Do You Talk Like That at Home? and Direct Mail 101 will help you squeeze out more sales. Oh yeah - and his next book Before You JFDI will help you plan your next campaign. Get on the list for a free advance copy here.

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