I keep watching the new Clayton “Have It Made” ad over and over, because I feel like I’m watching the first volley in the
manufactured housing revolution. In case you haven’t seen it on college football, here it is (link to ad). It’s one of the most
powerful one-minute public relations pieces that the industry could possibly hope for. And I believe that our sector will never
be the same, if it can follow up on many of the concepts offered in the ad.
Smart word choice
I used to be criticized all the time for using “mobile home” in my articles, as everyone would like you to use “manufactured home” as the official label, despite the fact that it is a total disaster based on Google analytics. A better option than “manufactured home” has always been the simple word “home”. I’ve been writing articles on that fact for several years, as I’ve never understood how adding the word “manufactured” helps in any regard. If you are not seeking Google analytics, then “home” has as much pull as “manufactured home” but without any stigma. Clayton obviously thinks the same, as the advertisement does not – even one time — use the word “manufactured” but simply “home”. They even avoided the “manufactured” label when showing the assembly line, opting instead to say “built indoors” and “built to order”. Does that mean that the word “manufactured” is going the way of the buffalo? I certainly hope so, for the sake of the industry. While “mobile home” is still required to get your property to pull up on a Google search by a customer, for all other occasions the best wording to describe our product is simply “home” and Clayton nailed that.
Powerful indirect persuasion
There are two ways to try to convince someone of your position:
1) direct persuasion and 2) indirect persuasion. Direct persuasion is when you say “my product is the best and here’s why”. Indirect persuasion is when you tell a story and the moral of the story is“and that’s why my product is the best”. For too many decades, the industry has stuck with direct persuasion, and it’s been a total failure. Studies have shown that you can only do indirect persuasion when trying to convince a hostile audience. And let’s face it folks, we do not have a great image with the average American. After watching endless episodes of Trailer Park Boys, COPS, Myrtle Manor and Eminem’s film 8-Mile, the average U.S. consumer has a negative stigma against the industry from day one. Up until this ad from Clayton, the industry has focused on telling this already hostile audience “hey, we’re the best” and they ignored the message before it began. But by using indirect persuasion, the average American is drawn into the story because they don’t know where it’s heading, and that gives them the ability to be persuaded. I’m betting that a huge percentage of viewers Googled up more information on Clayton products and pricing immediately following the commercial.
I love the fact that the commercial proudly embraces the history of the industry. I’ve never understood why some people are so afraid to talk about the past. I think one of our strengths is that Elvis lived in our product in two movies (“It Happened at the World’s Fair” and “Speedway”), that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz lived in the “Long, Long Trailer”, and that Frank Lloyd Wright designed his own model. I hate it when people declare “it’s not a trailer” because it all ties together in a historical perspective, and that’s like somebody refusing to acknowledge their heritage – and a proud heritage at that. The advertisement also is based on a historically interesting marketing format, with the same structure as the classic “they all laughed when I sat down at the piano… but when I started to play” which was one of the most effective headlines in U.S. history, used by the U.S. School of Music in 1926. You’ll find it in most marketing textbooks under the section “the most effective headlines of all time”.
From the casting to the cinematography, and from the copywriting to the editing, this advertisement has one key feature: “class”. It is a terrific and strong statement on the state of the industry, and the fact that most people don’t have a
clue of what our product is all about. Of course, you wouldn’t expect any less from Clayton, who has already dominated the
Louisville and Tunica shows with the best merchandising and marketing in the industry. But even then, this advertisement, in
my opinion, is the best marketing piece they have ever created – and that’s saying a lot. Let’s see if the rest of us can keep up their standard in our own marketing with the American public.
I love the Clayton ad. I am excited to see if this is truly the industry image revolution I’ve been hoping for. If you like it, too, then let them know. Email Clayton Homes and say ‘great ad- thanks a lot’. Let’s keep the momentum going by supporting those who take risks and bring forth game changers that support our great industry
Frank Rolfe has been a manufactured home community owner for almost two decades, and currently ranks as part of the 5th largest community owner in the United States, with more than 23,000 lots in 28 states in the Great Plains and Midwest. His books and courses on community acquisitions and management are the top-selling ones in the industry. To learn more about Frank’s views on the manufactured home community industry visit www.MobileHomeUniversity.com. This article originally appeared in the Manufactured Housing Review, subscribe for free here.