Come and Get It: A Tale of Customer Motivation

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The Chuck Wagon dog food commercials are an iconic piece of 20th century TV. A scruffy Benji-like pup was constantly chasing down a miniature chuck wagon in the quest to get his dinner.

My cousin’s ad agency was shooting a commercial that called for a farm scene where the dog was to chase the wagon through a flock of chickens. There was only one problem. Dogs won’t run through a flock of chickens. Why?

Because dogs know that if you run through a bunch of chickens odds are good you’re gonna get bunch of pissed-off pecks for your trouble. In the first 15 takes, the dog ran around the chickens.

Finally, to get the shot, they had to build a ramp, push the dog down it and toss a couple chickens in from the sides. Neither the dog, nor the chickens were very happy about it.

The moral of the story is that even though you may have an idea how you want your customer to behave, you just can’t force them to go where they don’t want to go. You have to know their motivation. It’s not to please you. You exist to please them.

And pushing them down a ramp isn’t going to make anyone very happy.