The Limits of Great Marketing?
Back in 1996 the savvy folks American Savings Education Council (AESC) created Choosetosave.org in an attempt to educate consumers on the importance of raising personal savings and the problems with overextending credit.
They picked up a great domain name, built a website with lots of free tools, and even developed a whole super hero-themed story-line - "Savings Man" protecting consumers from the evils of "Credit Card Man" and "Sub-Prime-mate". Great idea, great execution, but it wasn't enough.
In the third quarter of 2005 America's savings rate actually went negative at minus .75%...
In a recent profile on PBS NewsHour, the founder was asked why, and he indicted that for every dime they spent on this program, far more powerful forces were arrayed against them, spending literally millions to convince Americans to take out another credit card, buy a bigger house, etc..
And so it goes: sometimes great marketing simply isn't enough. You need to know what competition you are up against, and either have the budget to combat it effectively or find a better way to get your message out. Personally, I think they could have done better with a hard core viral campaign - the videos are finally now on YouTube.
Of course, sometimes it's just a matter of timing. And SavingsMan's time may have just arrived: in Q4 2008 America's savings rate hit almost hit 3%.