Varidesk Comes Vericlose and the Case for Founder-Spokespersons

By: Kyle Jelinek
Associate Director of Client Strategy, Oxford Road

While we here at Oxford Road created the Audiolytics™ ad scoring system, many advertisers unknowingly develop ads that pass–or come close to passing–our 71-point inspection. In this week’s Creative Breakdown, we dissect Varidesk’s TV spot, which achieved a score of 89%, making it just a hair shy of being Audiolytics™ Certified. While there are many things this ad does right, what we especially want to highlight is the use of the founder as a spokesperson, a favored tactic at our agency.

We love using founders in our spots, if possible. Chances are if you’re an Oxford Road client, we have discussed using your Founder-face or voice in a produced ad campaign. And for good reason; there is, perhaps, no better way to humanize a brand than to take the person who created it and put their name on the line in this direct manner.

One of the benefits is that Entrepreneurs are more relatable than paid spokespersons or even actors. The passion conveyed by the person who formed the company is uniquely yours and is instantly transferred to the listener or viewer in a way that cannot be accomplished by using even the most seasoned pitchman. And because it’s your company, people tend to believe you are serious about the promise you make. As a bonus, starring in your own ads eliminates the potentially astronomical costs associated with hiring talent or celebrity endorsers.

Without founder-spokespersons, Kentucky Fried Chicken would be faceless fried food, MyPillow would be a sack of chopped up memory foam, and Papa John’s would be just another pizza joint. Oxford Road advertising alumni like Ring, Dollar Shave Club, and Lending Tree (the latter being a spot we produced in-house) have all used their founders in their TV creatives. On the radio side, the list is even longer with founders from Boll & Branch, Helix Sleep, Quip, and Legacy Box to name a few, all lending their voices to their creative. By appearing in their ads, Colonel Sanders, Mike Lindell, Papa John Schnatter, Oxford Road clients, and thousands of other founders have made a connection with consumers by personifying their brands and providing instant credibility in the process.

Varidesk CEO, Jason McCann follows suit in this week’s creative breakdown. While Varidesk has run 11 spots ranging in lengths from 30 seconds to 5 minutes, this 60-second founder-spokesperson spot, entitled A Better Way, is the only commercial continuously airing since 2017, and it’s no wonder.

What they did right:

The structure of this commercial is rock-solid, executing a nearly perfect pain/solution narrative. Of the 9 Key Audiolytics™ components, Varidesk nails 6, including Setup, Value Proposition, Positioning, Demonstration, Substantiation, and Path.
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Secondly, Varidesk does an excellent job of positioning themselves against the “expensive” competition (beginning around the 0:10 mark). While other solutions are clunky and overpriced, Varidesk is an easy, cost-effective solution to the strain of sitting all day at your desk.

What can improve:

The two Key Audiolytics™ components found most wanting include Offer and Scarcity.

Varidesk spends 55 seconds walking the viewer through the entire sales cycle and fizzles. Instead of going in for the sale, they close with the pedestrian line, “Go to Varidesk.com to order yours.” A great performance ad should have the viewer scrambling to their phone or computer to buy now! This spot begs the viewer to file Varidesk deep in their hippocampus in the “it’d be nice to have someday” section. Had Varidesk created a reason to buy now (a special offer or discount only available to viewers), it could have been more effective.

If Varidesk really wanted to sell some product, they could have doubled down on the offer by creating urgency. This is traditionally done either organically (like for a father’s day gift) or artificially (like, “the next 50 people who use promo code STAND save $50”). While the brand folks in your company will cringe at the thought of such tactics, if you want to see immediate, trackable results from your ad campaign, they’re absolutely necessary.

Finally, the Varidesk ad could up it’s game in the area of Execution. Yes, it hits or brushes up against most of the key Audiolytics™ components, but it’s as compelling as a Yanni concert–it doesn’t have to be. All too often, founders take a conservative approach to exude professionalism and avoid making waves–playing it safe is the fast lane to mediocrity! You must take some big swings. In his irreverent stab at “Big Detergent,” Jonathan Propper starred in this fabulous explainer video for his company Dropps.com. Like Varidesk, Propper unknowingly nailed most of the key Audiolytics™ components, but unlike Varidesk, the Dropps ad is executed in an entertaining and irreverent way that generates buzz. Jonathan is not a client of ours but we respect the work.

Do you have what it takes to be the spokesperson for your company? Even if the initial response is a no, you should reconsider. If you are an engaged founder, you ARE the face of your brand, like it or not. While you may not be as famous as Richard Branson or have the down-home appeal of Orville Redenbacher, you have a passion for your business that is unmatched by anyone on this planet. By harnessing that passion, you’ll win the hearts of your future customers. If you’re not the founder of your company, it is your duty to interject your founder into the creative every chance you can. Your ads will perform better. By not exploring the possibilities, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table.

If you’ve taken the first step and are willing to be your own spokesperson, are you going to slip into mediocrity or do you have the intestinal fortitude to bare it all for your company like Jonathan Propper?

If you’re our brand of crazy (and the fact that you’ve made it this far in this week’s Influencer suggests you are), we’d like to schedule a free brainstorming session to see just how far we can take it. If you have what it takes, we can begin to craft a message that will have the world talking. “I guarantee it.”

If the above link didn’t work for you, reach out to gavin@oxfordroad.com to discuss next steps.

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