What’s a not-so-simple- question advertisers get asked frequently? Here it is: what is the most effective from of advertising? Talk about a question that can be answered a million different ways based on who you’re speaking with, how much experience a person has, where they’ve worked, etc. But, there must be an answer out there because a handful of advertisers do it exceptionally well everyday: Snickers, Always, GEICO … Whether it’s a magic phrase, voodoo spell or, quite possibly, one specific style of advertising, here’s our breakdown of effective advertising methods:
The Direct Approach:
Tell your audience about your product. What makes it better than the competitors and why they need to buy it. While undoubtedly the safest approach, some argue that this is the most effective form of advertising.
The Upside: Usually easy to remember the product. If you are in need of what they are selling, you may be influenced by how they presented their product, and what it does.
The Downside: Most of the times, these commercials are not very memorable. So even if you personally get something out of their message, you are not likely to talk about it to others.
The Subliminal Approach:
Create a unique form of an ad that is cleverly done, but leaves the consumer wondering “What they hell are they trying to sell here?”
The Upside: You may create something so cool that you end up winning a CLIO or other prestigious award for your work. This is great for the Advertising Firm, but most people won’t hear about the award and the company will get little to no recognition at all. So while this seems like an upside for the firm, it’s a downside for the company who is advertising. With High Risk comes High Rewards. Get it right and you can both win!
The Downside: There is a big chance that you really miss the mark with this style. Not only could the ad go right over someone’s head, and your piece be overlooked for an award (which is highly likely), nobody gets to appreciate it because the brand is not recognized and neither is the Ad Agency. You both lose!
The Musical Approach:
How many catchy jingles or songs from commercials get stuck in your head? This is a niche form of advertising that is not for everyone. Those that get it right will have a solid career ahead of them. However, you don’t need to go down the jingle road. Look at what companies like Heineken have done with musical videos. You don’t get the song stuck in your head, but you do feel entertained after watching them and you remember the brand. And then there are those commercials that rely on popular music to help sell their products. Although some might have a “moral” issue pop music being used in advertising, when you choose the right song, it can really stick with a product and make people identify with it.
The Upside: We all know that that is. What company doesn’t want to be immortalized in a song that gets stuck in people’s head? “My bologna has a first name…” Choosing the right popular song can really help your brand every time the real song is played on the radio. Do it right, and the first thing people will think about is your product, and not the band.
The Downside: Have you ever had one of those songs stuck in your head, but it happens to be one of the most annoying songs in the world? So if you want to take this path – make sure that the song is memorable. And if it is annoying (which can sometimes work), make sure it’s just annoying like “The sun will come out tomorrow” annoying and not “I hate Justin Bieber and don’t like any of his songs so why is ‘Baby’ stuck in my head?” annoying.
The Comedy Approach:
Ah, now we get to the meat and potatoes of advertising. Everyone wants a funny commercial. Well, not everyone (as we have learned), but creating a funny ad that people will talk about at the water cooler, at the bar, around campfires, etc. is a goal that a lot of companies shoot for. What about those “World’s Funniest Commercials” shows? You get some more bang for your buck to end up there. How about the Super Bowl Ads? It takes a special advertising firm to really get good at doing this consistently. But if you can show that you are worthy, you will not only get a lot of work, but the companies you represent should do very well as a result. Some examples of this: Skittles, Bud Light, Cheetos, Old Spice and GEICO.
The Upside: Infamy!
The Downside: You may not be as funny as you think and now not only will people not remember what it is you are trying to sell (bad for the client), but as a result the Ad Agency will not get any more work in this field.
The mark of a great Ad Agency is one who can successfully combine the methods above. You want a great branding message that is a piece of art that lives in people’s memory forever? Then you can strive to meet the mark of Ridley Scott’s “1984” ad for Apple. It was only shown 1 time during the Super Bowl and is still getting great praises to this day. The companies with funny commercials that are mentioned above, get two big things accomplished – people talk about the commercials, and the branding is solid so that people remember what the product is. How many Super Bowl ads can you remember where the commercial was very funny, but you have no recollection of what it was that was being sold? What’s the point? The point is that you are at least talking about it. You will either go to YouTube and seek the commercial out so you can tell people what the product is (so that they can all say “Oh yeah, I love that commercial), or someone you know will already have done this work and say “Yeah, you mean the State Farm ad where the alien robot is destroying the town? Classic!”
So which method of advertising is correct? The big answer is – THEY ALL ARE! As I mentioned before, effective advertising is very hard to get right. If it were easy, everyone would be an Ad Agency. Whether you are advertising in print, billboard, interactive, television or the Internet, staying up on your game and staying one step ahead of the industry is what it takes to get to the top and stay there.
The most important thing to think about is what is best for the company. Who is the target audience, what are the demographics? Look at as much data as you can to figure this out and, as long as you are a great creative team, you will hopefully be successful no matter which road you take.