Thursday, September 17, 2015

What Can We Learn from the Best Ad Campaigns?

The following is an excerpt from a blog piece that resonated with me quite strongly.   I have distilled out the lessons learned by the author from each campaign here, but I highly recommend not only looking at the entirety of the blog for other possible insights and lessons, but to be reminded of the ads themselves, and the impact that they had on you.  Then ask yourself what other ad campaigns you would add to this list (and also which, if any, you would replace because the lesson wasn’t as important or your choice portrayed the lesson (or a more important one) better in your own mind.

I share this NOT as an expert in marketing or branding, but because of the analysis on WHY these worked.  I share it NOT with the intent of making us “branding” experts, but rather because, at least for me, the lessons the writer distills out are transferable to my efforts, to our efforts – but only if we “walk the talk” – do more than just speak the messages, but actually act upon them.  My own, hardly authoritative restatement of the lesson as it applies to us is in parentheses at the end of each.  Most of them, when written out, are anything but surprises – they are points we have made and generally agreed upon.  But seeing them all together from a different source can change how we receive their messages. And, I especially appreciate the start at #1, with the thought process behind it.

12 of the Best Marketing & Ad Campaigns (And What Made Them Successful)
Written by Lindsay Kolowich 

1)       Nike: Just Do It.
So when you're trying to decide the best way to present your brand, ask yourself what problem are you solving for your customers. What solution does your product or service provide? By hitting on that core issue in all of your marketing messaging, you'll connect with consumers on an emotional level that is hard to ignore. [RS – isn’t this what we need to be doing in everything we do?  In addition to making sure that our actions and programs match our vision and values, don’t we need to have a real world reason and goal for our efforts, that is based in the hearts of those we speak to and work with?]

2)       Absolut Vodka: The Absolut Bottle
So what’s a marketer's lesson here? No matter how boring your product looks, it doesn’t mean you can’t tell your story in an interesting way. Let me repeat: Absolut created 1500 ads of one bottle. Be determined and differentiate your product in the same way. [Dependable and predictable can sell, especially if one stays committed to the message.]

3)       Miller Lite: Great Taste, Less Filling
For decades after this campaign aired, Miller Lite dominated the light beer market they'd essentially created. What’s the lesson marketers can learn? Strive to be different. If people tell you there isn’t room for a product, create your own category so you can quickly become the leader. [What makes us unique?  How can we focus on that to grow?]

4)       Volkswagen: Think Small
See, Americans always had a propensity to buy big American cars -- and even 15 years after WWII ended, most Americans were still not buying small German cars. So what did this Volkswagen advertisement do? It played right into the audience’s expectations. You think I’m small? Yeah, I am. They never tried to be something they were not. That's the most important takeaway from this campaign: Don’t try to sell your company, product, or service as something it’s not. Consumers recognize and appreciate honesty. [We need to be who we are and be honest when we talk about who we wish to be when we aren’t there yet.]

5)       Marlboro: Marlboro Man
The lesson here? Remember that whatever you're selling needs to fit somehow into your audience's lifestyle -- or their idealized lifestyle. [I would add that in addition to knowing who we are reaching out to better, this also gives us permission to promote an idealized view.]

6)       California Milk Processor Board: Got Milk?
Note, though, that the ad didn't target people who weren’t drinking milk; but instead focused on the consumers who already were. The lesson here? It's not always about getting a brand new audience to use your products or services -- sometimes, it's about getting your current audience to appreciate and use your product more often. Turn your audience into advocates, and use marketing to tell them why they should continue to enjoy the product or service you are already providing for them. [Even as we seek to bring in newcomers, there is value in strengthening our core, even energizing them to be part of the reaching out.]

7)       Dove: Real Beauty
For example, in their Real Beauty Sketches campaign, they created ads around a social experiment in which an FBI-trained sketch artist was asked to draw female volunteers twice: First, as each woman described herself and the second time, as a random stranger described her. The images that were drawn were completely different, and Dove accompanied this finding with a compelling statistic that only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful.  The results? The different videos showing Dove's sketches were viewed more than 114 million times, shared 3.74 million times, uploaded in 25 languages, and seen in 110 countries. The PR and blogger media impression amounted to over 4 billion. It clearly resonated with their audience -- and people were touched both by the ads and by the statistics Dove used to back up their message. [The cliché that “perception is reality” CAN be overcome – but it takes a compelling case to do so.]

8)        Apple: Get a Mac
A key takeaway here? Just because your product does some pretty amazing things doesn’t mean you need to hit your audience over the head with it. Instead, explain your product’s benefits in a relatable way so consumers are able to see themselves using it. [Be willing to sell – be careful not to oversell.]

9)        Clairol: Does She or Doesn’t She?
The lesson here: Sometimes, simply conveying how and why your product works is enough for consumers. Showing becomes more effective than telling. [Actions speak louder than words.]

10)    De Beers: A Diamond is Forever
De Beers actually built the industry; they presented the idea that a diamond ring was a necessary luxury. According to the New York TimesN.W. Ayer's game plan was to "create a situation where almost every person pledging marriage feels compelled to acquire a diamond engagement ring." The lesson here? Marketing can make a relatively inexpensive product seem luxurious and essential. [In attracting the unaffiliated, our challenge is to help them better value what they do not even yet realize they are missing.]

11)    Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like
That first video has over 51 million views as of this writing. Several months later, in June 2010, Old Spice followed up with a second commercial featuring the same actor, Isaiah Mustafa. Mustafa quickly became "Old Spice Guy," a nickname Wieden + Kennedy capitalized on with an interactive video campaign in which Mustafa responded to fans' comments on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites with short, personalized videos. In about two days, the company had churned out 186 personalized, scripted, and quite funny video responses featuring Mustafa responding to fans online. According to Inc, these videos saw almost 11 million views, and Old Spice gained about 29,000 Facebook fans and 58,000 new Twitter followers…. The lesson here? If you find your campaign's gained momentum with your fans and followers, do everything you can to keep them engaged while keeping your messaging true to your brand's voice and image. [When you invest in relationships, you can get results.]

12)    Wendy’s: Where’s the Beef?

Wendy’s took a more gutsy approach in this marketing campaign: They targeted their competitors. The simple phrase "Where's the beef?" was used to point out the lack of beef in their competitors' burgers -- and it quickly became a catch phrase that encapsulated all that was missing in their audience's lives. While you can’t predict when a catchphrase will catch on and when it won’t, Wendy’s (wisely) didn’t over-promote their hit phrase. They only ran the campaign for a year, and allowed it to gently run its course. The lesson here: Be careful with your campaigns' success and failures. Just because you find something that works doesn't mean you should keep doing it over and over to the point it's played out. Allow your company to change and grow, and you may find that you can have even greater success in the future by trying something new. [Words, used carefully, can change behavior – but only when they speak a truth and touch a place of honesty in the listener.]

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