The art of advertising

Advertisers are focusing more and more on refining their communication. Today, a good ad has to deliver the desired message, stand out, and be a delight to watch. These needs have opened the floodgates of creativity in the industry. I have picked some video ads which I feel demonstrates the point well.

1. In-your-face credibility

Communicating the credibility of the claims is a serious task for the advertiser. “9 out of 10 dentists recommend this product” just doesn’t cut it anymore. Volvo overcame this problem spectacularly well:

Note that Van Damme (the actor) doesn’t mention a word about the trucks. Yet, the delicate balance required to pull it off draws our attention to how precise the steering is. Mission accomplished with style.

2. Emotional connect

Establishing an emotional connection is tough to pull off when the viewer is aware of the underlying goal of selling a product. The trick is to conceal the sales pitch inside a heartwarming plot. A great example is this Wideroe ad:

Who doesn’t love grandpa’s magic tricks? It takes us back to our childhood. I haven’t heard of Wideroe before, but it’s obvious that their planes are taking off at short and precise intervals even in a seemingly remote location. This perfectly complements the tagline “All over Norway. All the time.”

(Also, great acting!)

3. Artsy and sophisticated

What do you do when you are a high-end luxury brand? Reinforce the aspirational quality through videos that are pure class.

The words are from one of Muhammad Ali’s poems about himself.

Last night I had a dream, When I got to Africa,
I had one hell of a rumble.
I had to beat Tarzan’s behind first,
For claiming to be King of the Jungle.
For this fight, I’ve rassled with alligators,
I’ve tussled with a whale.
I done handcuffed lightning
And throw thunder in jail.
You know I’m bad.
just last week, I murdered a rock,
Injured a stone, Hospitalized a brick.
I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.
I’m so fast, man,
I can run through a hurricane and don’t get wet.
When George Foreman meets me,
He’ll pay his debt.
I can drown the drink of water, and kill a dead tree.
Wait till you see Muhammad Ali.

4. The power of memes

Axe is known for their stereotype ‘hundreds of girls chasing after you’ ads, but for this one, they did something different. It started off with one insight: every guy had that one girl whom they were deeply infatuated with but never had the courage to ask out. Axe named her ‘Susan Glenn’. Then they started spreading anonymous memes on the internet.

Image result for susan glenn memeImage result for susan glenn meme

It caught on quickly. Everyone was talking about this Susan Glenn and how they totally had one. Urban Dictionary defined her as “the girl that got away”. Susan Glenn went viral. Axe set up for the success of their campaign with minimal spending.

Then they released this video:

This was followed by several follow-up promotions, like a documentary of a guy who traveled abroad to serenade his Susan Glenn, guys filling up Times Square billboards declaring their own Susan Glenns, and even a web series.

The brand’s message changed from “have power over all women” to “be more confident with that one woman who has complete power over you”. Sales exploded.

5. Obsession

Netflix does very little advertisement. The company relies mostly on organic growth through word-of-mouth and good content. But it can pull off great adverts when it wants to.

Their key message has varied. The #netflixandchill campaign used the same viral power of the meme technology to carve out a place for itself on the internet. Through it, Netflix became synonymous with being in a relationship or hooking up. Then there were ads such as this that showed Netflix going above and beyond relationships. There have also been ads that blurred the lines between reality and the shows, that signified the extent to which Netflix draws us in. They went as far as showing a dystopic future where Netflix rules the world.

6. Meeting every demand

For the dog lovers out there.

This is my favorite Amazon ad. It displays both the value propositions of Amazon (we sell all products from A to Z) and Amazon Prime (we do super-fast delivery). The guy is able to buy something as weird as a lion wig and gets it delivered instantly.

7. Bizzare and hilarious

When your product has no inherent demand, a great ad is your best bet! And thus, the greatest spoof on infomercials was born.

I shit you not, another 13+ million bottles of PooPourri has been sold, with $4 million worth of back orders, following the release of this commercial – a proof of the effect of good advertising.

By the way, this is just one video of a series of similar commercials.

8. Appreciating consumers

Large FMCG companies usually stick to advertising their brands instead of themselves. P&G did something different with its ‘Thank you, Mom’ campaign during the Olympics.

While the traditional Olympic advertisements are based on the players, this particular campaign shifts the focus to the moms. It not only makes the ad stand out but also directly addresses the woman of the household, who is also the most important target segment for P&G’s products.

8. Be a hero

Empirical evidence suggests that men are less likely to contribute towards social causes when NGOs appeal to their empathy and emotions. Then campaigns like Movember showed that targeting the macho and humorous sides of men is much more effective. This is another example:

This ad targeted millennial men who are known to dislike both ads and charity. The mental blocks were overcome using humor and foul language, and by keeping the organ donation bit for the end. As a result, Donate Life’s registrations went up by over 500%.

9. Boom de yada

I’m not sure if the following should be on the list, but what the hell, it’s one of my favorites! We all remember the era of jingles when every company tried to get their song stuck in our heads. Be it Washing Powder Nirma or Vico Vajradanti (watch this AIB tribute for a refresher course), jingles used to be the go-to way to make a brand memorable.

Here is the one by Discovery Channel:

I loved how the song captured the essence of Discovery Channel. Curiosity, love for knowledge, goofing around, adventure – it has it all. Also, nothing like a fistbump in space!

Few more:


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