Ever wonder why some advertisements use GIANTS to deliver its message?

The use of giants is a great tactic for separating one’s advertisement from the thousands of others. It’s an attention-getter. Ads featuring giants often rank near the top in recall. Because giants are “out of the ordinary” we almost automatically find them interesting. Would you rather read a story about some guy living in the clouds or that giant at the top of a bean stalk? Or, would you prefer to hear about the exploit of a hunter who met a cub along a walking path or a 12-foot high bear standing on its haunches?

We often have a similar degree of interest in anything else that is BIG that, for us, is something we don’t see everyday.

Let’s consider another story. This time about the exploits of an adventurer. Would you rather hear the story about the outdoors person who jogged up the side of a local hill, or that of the person who ran up the Matterhorn?

Giants and big things capture our imagination. Size implies superiority. If we are allowed to use our imagination, we imagine everything about it to be superior. One proviso goes with that. We’ll gladly imagine qualities of superiority and even desirability, provided the giant on the screen doesn’t block us by acting in mere human ways, or worse, in ways inferior to our expectations. You’ve likely heard the old adage, “Bigger is better”? In advertisement, that may also be true, provided the giant doesn’t act smaller than what we wish ourselves to be.

BIG is innately more interesting, more satisfying, and assumed to be of a higher quality in all aspects. The use of some element of bigness is highly effective to capturing viewers attention and making the advertiser’s message more impacting. Associating one’s product with a highly credible giant, with superior human qualities, creates a halo effect for the product…the good qualities of the giant rub off and onto the product.

A packaged food company, in the past, successfully took human qualities and escalated them to bigness when it used a giant green guy in its TV commercials. I know people who saw those ads when they were kids and now as adults still remember that happy green guy. Think about that! Decades later, those people STILL RECALL the ad and the product advertised. If you are an advertiser, how would you like that have that kind of residual impact?

I write this Nugget because I came across another company using a giant in its commercials. Young marketers who designed that ad had the right idea, but failed to understand the importance of the dynamics between a giant and humans. The result? Their giant came off as a lumbering moron. What’s the message that a moronic giant implies? Possibly: “buy our product and you, too, can be a fumbling moron, just like me.” That’s not so desirable a message, is it? The giant in the lottery ads is portrayed as a giddy klutz.

The use of the giant in the lottery ticket commercials could have been presented much better had the marketers asked themselves, “How would we want to be perceived by humans if we were the giant?” Maybe they can learn from studying human interactions with people who are taller than us?

It’s no secret that tall people are given a momentary benefit of the doubt when we meet them. We hand them a few minutes advantage to prove to our subconscious minds that they are in some ways superior to us. We study them, even subconsciously, to determine what quality they have that is better than what we have. Our respect and trust is packaged in those first few minutes. We expect to be able to model ourselves after some quality possessed by that tall person, in some way, and to our advantage. If we find something about that person that makes us conclude that, that particular quality is better than what we possess, we are apt to attribute more attention, even more respect, to that taller person.

By the same degree with which we elevate the tall person with an admirable quality, we demote a tall person with qualities that are undesirable. If we find no characteristic that is superior to what we posses, we determine that the tall person is just an ordinary human being with the same qualities and foibles as us. We conclude, “Nothing special. Additional attention, respect, consideration is not warranted.”

An advertiser who transfers human qualities to the giant and elevates those qualities to be superior in every way possible, is apt to produce a positive halo effect for its product. Advertisers who imbue their giant with qualities we do not regard as desirable for us as humans, is apt to produce a negative halo effect upon its products. In other words, an advertiser who spends precious resources on advertisements featuring a giant behaving in a way inferior to highly-developed humans is apt to produce an ad that misses its potential.

That food company that featured the giant with sophisticated, pleasant, superior, human qualities, had a winner. But this clever company went one step further. The fact that the giant was green in color was an outstanding clever tool to suggest an association to the green product that the company was selling. It was as if the ads were holding our attention to drive home the message: “If you eat this green food that we oackage, you can be a superior human, too. JUST LIKE ME.”

Here’s a tip for parents. If you can’t get your kids to eat their green peas, then, the next time you see that green giant, [if the food company ever runs that ad again], and your kids are watching the commercial while sitting beside you, let the green giant do the heavy lifting. That would be a perfect opportunity to tell your kids:

“See! The green giant guy also is telling you to eat your peas! You can be just like him. You should listen to him. He knows best!”


That food company may have to update its green giant man? Same with the lottery’s moronic giant. Today we need role models for both male and female kids. These days we’d hope to see any company wanting to feature a giant in its ads to do so with a male AND a female giant.