Keynote Speaker and Executive Coach Victoria Labalme

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The Beauty of a Clever Gimmick

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Promotional Hot Dog Truck Gimmick

Image source: Allamericanhotdog.com

I won’t lie: I love a good gimmick. For example, I’m tickled by food delivery trucks shaped like the foods they deliver. A giant hot dog zipping down the highway is just too absurd to ignore. It’s funny, cute, and engaging. I also love it when restaurants have themes. When a pirate gives me a fish filet, it just tastes better. Sure, sometimes gimmicks can be too much, and they’re not usually found behind the walls of more dignified establishments, but in the appropriate place at the appropriate time, gimmicks are effective and they make any experience a whole lot more fun.

Advertisers have been on the gimmick train since advertising started, back when ad-men chiseled 2-for-one deals in cuniform on stone tablets. The logo, the spokesperson, the cartoon gecko (my least favorite gimmick of all) are all hooks: they link a funny concept with a product line. When it’s done well, the product stands apart from its competition. When it’s done poorly, we all end up hating the product for the gimmick (once again read: Geico gecko). Advertisers often discover sales tactics first—they are deeply motivated by profits—but we can all use gimmicks to accomplish the same memorable salesmanship in our own projects. What works in advertising often works in business. We’re all appealing to what people like.

The Geico Gecko: Gimmicky Spokesman for Geico Insurance

Image source: Americanprofile.com

In a presentation, gimmicks can take many forms. They can be a simple thesis statement: Social media is failing our company. Or they can be more overtly entertaining: a go-to image that encapsulates your message or a character that illustrates your theme. You can become the gimmick too: use a costume to bring a gimmick to life. Whatever gimmick you choose, go all out. If it’s going to fail, at least it will fail big (and you will get respect for the 100% effort). There is nothing worse than a half-cocked gimmick.

Magician Rodney Kelley

Image source: Rodneykelley.com

One of my favorite presentations ever used a hilarious gimmick that still comes to mind with some regularity. The presenter was talking about misinformation: the dangers of trusting sources that aren’t backed up by facts. He illustrated his point with slight-of-hand tricks, dressed to the nines in a Harry Houdini costume. After each trick, he showed us how it was done, unmasking the trick for all its simple obviousness. He was communicating the skill of advertisers and retailers in using their own slight-of-hand language or marketing to misrepresent a product or service. His presentation was a vastly entertaining magic show in its own right and it left me both awed and informed.

As a Creative Communications Strategist, Victoria is known for her electrifying Keynote Performances™ and the transformational workshops and coaching sessions she creates for elite executives, high performing teams, thought leaders and entrepreneurs. 

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