How Product Demonstrations Work

Actual Product Demonstrations

When the product being advertised surpasses all consumer expectations, the best approach a company can take is to use an actual demonstration to prove the value of their product. Top paper towel and toilet paper brands will often do comparison demonstrations to prove that their brand has superior absorption. Of course, they rarely mention the other brand involved in the comparison which allows them to choose highly inferior competitor products, making their brand seem that much greater by comparison.

Comparing your brand to another is definitely a great way to prove the value of your product, but if what you’re selling is truly amazing, then an actual product demonstration is a highly effective way of advertising. The Oreck vacuum is a great example of a high quality product that wowed viewers simply by showing what it is capable of doing. Anyone who has ever used a vacuum cleaner knows how frustrating it can be when you have to roll over a piece of lint twenty times before it gets sucked into the bag. Being able to lift and hold a 16-pound bowling ball is not a common trait for a 5-pound vacuum cleaner, so why not show that to the world? That’s exactly what Oreck did and their ad campaign was amazingly successful.

Another example of an actual product demonstration is the set of ads run by Toyota for one of their trucks, the Tundra. After questioning truck owners, the ad creators discovered which aspects of a truck are most important to those who drive them: power, braking, acceleration, stability, and towing. Since the advertising agency knew that this campaign was going to have multiple ads, they came up with a long-term plan. They chose to give each ad a similar feel by shooting them in rugged locations, using highly dangerous actual demonstrations and involving seven simple machines: the inclined plane, wheel and axle, lever, pulley, wedge, and screw. What followed, however, was something that Toyota did not expect—many people questioned the legitimacy of the demonstrations. Even though ‘actual demonstration’ read across the screen in each ad, the demonstrations were done on such grand scales that people doubted their validity. Even if someone was willing to believe that a truck could accomplish the tasks involved in the demonstrations, many people found it unbelievable that an automaker would go to such great lengths for a commercial.

The viewers’ standpoint was fairly reasonable considering what the Tundra demonstrations actually showed the truck doing. The ads displayed the Tundra braking on a dime at the edge of a cliff, hauling a 6400-lb. shipping container up a 180-foot cliff, and exhibiting wonderful braking and acceleration while hauling loads of 10,000-lbs. or more. Sounds pretty unbelievable, right? Luckily, Toyota had the foresight to invite members of the community to watch the filming of the demonstrations and sign affidavits attesting to the honesty of the camera work and the legitimacy of the demonstrations themselves. Some actual product demonstrations look honest enough but utilize trick photography or other sneaky methods to make the products look better than they really are. Because affidavits are signed under oath in front of a notary, they are legally-binding documents.

So, if your product is capable of wowing people in any way, a great approach to advertising is to simply show the world what your product can do.

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More Great Links


  • "Engineering an ad." Machine Design.
  • "Toyota Tundra put to the test." The Inspiration Room.