You would expect that the artist at an advertising agency is the creative team, and the numbers geeks in data selection are the analytical ones, wouldn’t you? In fact, most people would bet on it.
However, the opposite is true. Sure, each of them are mired in the rolls we expect them to hold, but the geniuses in each of those areas are the ones who employ the opposite talent.
The list is the most important part of an advertising campaign. How do we get our message most efficiently in front of the right audience? No matter the media, we can find a lot of data about audience behavior. What they do for a living, how much money they make, their family structure and set of beliefs tell us a lot about the products they are likely to purchase. But everyone knows that. Your competitors know that. To set yourself above the rest, you need someone who can read into all that data, information that isn’t obvious.
For instance, if you are selling carpet cleaning, find pet owners, or homeowners with children. Their dirty carpets need cleaning. But how about identifying drivers of cherry red Ford Mustangs? That color is daring and catches attention when sparkling clean. That group is likely to be particular about their surroundings and fond of cleanliness. You may find a golden audience with that group. Create a message just for them, and you are likely to find success.
So now, you move that assignment to the creative team. Their task is to develop a message that promotes the need of clean carpets to the audience of proud red Mustang owners. It must convey a sales offer, and hold true to the branding requirements of the offeror (let’s hope their corporate colors don’t clash with a red Mustang) and must do so within the physical limits of the media chosen. A 30-second TV spot, print on a 6″ x 11″ postcard, or remain under the seven words readable on billboards of various, unknown placements.
The creative team does what they do under more rules than we know, whereas, the audience identification crew starts with accepted knowledge, and has unlimited imagination available to them to enhance the program’s reach.
If a program is successful, you can probably count on one of those teams being able to use the other side of their brain to lead the success.
It is the last season of Mad Men. Of course, I enjoy the show. How could I not? I live it here, right down to smoking in the office (don’t tell the city please). We even have a retro martini bar that is our favorite stop after work.
But there is one thing about the show that bugs me. In advertising, the era of the 60s was famous for its use of advertising icons. In fact, many of those icons have endured until today. Tony the Tiger, The Green Giant and Mr. Clean were but a few still in use. But Josephine the Plumber, the Ajax White Knight and the Frito Bandito were all icons created in the Sixties as well.
So why do we never see Don Draper pitching the use of an icon in the show? It almost seems deliberate that they ignore that part of 1960s advertising. Perhaps an episode that showed Don Draper pitching Cap’n Crunch would be bad for his image. More likely, creating an advertising icon is a lot more work than can be whipped out in a show that has enough realism on its plate to begin with. Either way, to me it is the most glaring omission in an otherwise wonderfully realistic show.
In case you wonder just how prevalent these icons were in that era, here is a list of some that were either created or had their most popular days in that era.
Tony the Tiger Norelco Santa NBC Peacock
Jolly Green Giant The Pillsbury Dough Boy Speedy Alka-Seltzer
Marlboro Man Aunt Jemima Betty Crocker
Madge from Palmolive Josephine the Plumber Mr. Clean
Cap’n Crunch Count Chocula Quisp and Quake
Frankenberry White Knight from Ajax Frito Bandito
Hawaiian Punchy Mr. Whipple Maytag Repairman
Juan Valdez Mr. Peanut Campbell Kids
Charlie Tuna Elsie the Borden Cow Lucky Charm Leprechaun
Sonny of Cocoa Puffs Toucan Sam The Twenty Mule Team
Trix Rabbit Geoffery The Giraffe Mrs. Olson
Raisin Bran Sun Quaker Oats Man Ronald McDonald
Wendy of Wendy’s Morris the Cat Choo-Choo Charlie
Cornelius the Kellogs Corn Flakes Rooster The Hamm’s Bear
Most direct mail programs are considered successful with a response rate around 2%
99% of those seeing your display ads in newspapers, out of home ads on billboards or bus stations, and 99.9% of your e-mail list don’t respond to your ad.
Add in the ignored impressions on your PPC and other SEO efforts. An overwhelming majority of your audience doesn’t respond to the ads you work so hard to make convincing. What of those people? You simply can’t ignore the fact that they have seen, and chosen not to take advantage of your offer.
That group gives you a huge opportunity to move your brand forward. They are valuable in the future. Make sure you are setting yourself up for success with that 99%.
Before you approve any ad, make sure it conveys your brand. Read it from the point of view of the 99% that are not going to take advantage of it. Let them know why you are best for them. By reinforcing your brand, you remind them of who you are and why they should choose you. If not today, someday.
That way, when your audience does not buy the deck furniture you try to sell them (perhaps they are satisfied with what they own, or don’t have a deck, or just can’t afford the luxury right now), at least let them know why your deck furniture is the best furniture for them. That way, when their condition changes, they will already have a preference for your brand instilled in their minds.
Going in, you know that 99% won’t buy. You can’t change that, Just don’t ignore them.
That may be the most important statement any marketer can learn. Sure, it took your whole career to develop that method, product, or perfect service that you provide. Behind what people buy from you is years of work, a huge infrastructure to assure quality and consistency, and countless hours away from your family (not including those spent with your family when you were thinking up ways to make it all work even better).
But nobody cares.
No one buys your product to repay your effort. They buy it because of what they get out of it. If it fell out of a tree, or if you toiled countless hours to provide it doesn’t matter. All that matters is whether they think it will make them richer, prettier, more popular, envied, or lazier.
You would be wise to market accordingly. Don’t bother to tell anyone about the brilliant programmer who helped develop that new GPS iPhone application you sell, all they want to know is that it will easily find their kid’s opponent’s home soccer field.
Don’t boast of the harder enamel used in the boat polish, just let them know they only have to do it once a year, and all their friends will think they hired a service.
If you are pushing your product, quit your marketing job and go into sales. Marketing has to draw people toward your product. You can’t push with marketing.
This Honda ad promotes the fact that their mini-van has a vacuum cleaner. I will admit that my immediate reaction when I first saw it was “who would want to make a big deal out of a vacuum cleaner in a car? Of all the meaningful differentiating features an automobile can have, why would they feature this silly little convenience? Because they have put themselves in a position where they can.
The Honda brand is strong. It is a reliable, practical automobile, perfect for families. This new feature is consistent with that fact. It helps support that claim and it separates Hondas from Toyota, Chevy, and other similarly practical brands in doing so.
But it only works because that overall Honda brand is so strong. This add contributes, only in a small way to the overall brand. But the important thing is that it contributes at all. The audience already knows about the Honda reliability. To repeat how reliable it is wouldn’t hurt, but it wouldn’t move things forward either. It would solidify its position by reminding the audience of its family value. There is nothing wrong with doing that. But the previous ads that did solidify its reliable reputation and allow this ad to push in a different, but not counter, direction.
How many marketing techniques can you fit into a single campaign? The ALS ice bucket challenge might set a new record. And they execute them all so well.
The challenge employs:
Celebrity endorsements – You can’t help but see celebrities of all walks of life taking the challenge then calling upon more celebrities to join them. The unpaid endorsements top every other campaign I’ve ever seen….even more than USA for Africa if you can stand to hear “We Are the World” one more time
Viral Marketing – The idea that part of the campaign is to call out three people assures a viral thread across the social media universe once it took hold
Word of Mouth – You will see your friends endorse the campaign one by one, until you are finally called upon. Try to resist the peer pressure that creates
Multi-level (Pyramid) marketing – By creating brand champions out of friends, family and celebrities, it sucks you in to become one too. It is a steamroller of pyramid marketing.
Social media – It employs Facebook and twitter better than any campaign ever has. It uses those tools to make money more effectively than anything in recent memory
Public Relations – Even the social media illiterate will surely have heard of the campaign and seen clips of it through news, and sports shows, or through friends and relatives who have seen the videos or participated themselves.
Branding – We know it by the “Ice Bucket Challenge” We know it is for ALS research. They have made that message part of us now. We don’t even have to think about it.
News, excitement and a strong call-to-action – News:0 “Everyone wants to work to cure ALS” Excitement: The visual of a bucket of ice over a person’s head. Call-to-action: The next three named really can’t ignore it.
Brand advancement – The consistency and simplicity of every message, each delivered in its own unique way to make sure you view it is astounding.
What do you get when you run such a successful campaign? Last year, through the month of July and August, the ALS Association received about $2.5 million in donations. This year, with the start of the campaign, they are over $79.7 million in donations.
Like just about every other successful campaign you can think of, the success of this campaign is not in its uniqueness. Every one of these techniques, right down to the bucket of ice over the head, has been done to death in about every combination possible. So why has nothing worked this well? What is different here, is that all the techniques were employed according to a strong plan, that made sense and employed great fundamentals.
When you create a campaign, just worry about the fundamentals, and make sure what you decide creatively makes sense according to that plan. Then believe in and commit to it.