The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
What does Super Bowl advertising and spam have in common? Both subscribe to the eyeball theory. In both cases, it’s about scale. In both cases, it’s about interruption. In both cases, it’s about hope.
“If we can just reach enough people, then enough people will react and we’ll get our money back”. Which as I say is hopeful, because more and more the real numbers seem to be suggesting that reach alone is a dead metric. Just because people have heard of you, just because you’ve had your 30 seconds of fame, does not automatically mean that will convert into significant amounts of sales. Particularly when your logo is thrown into the 10 second end-zone at the back of the ad to give the gag as much time as possible to run. And particularly if you’ve spent most of your year’s budget on this big splash, and there are little or no resources left to follow up.
The National Football League’s Super Bowl is the triumph of occasion, prestige and scale. Between the press releases and the hoopla, advertising at the Super Bowl simply means 110+ million people saw you. Or could have seen you, in between mouthfuls of chips and trips to the restroom.
There must be better ways to spend $4 million of your marketing budget. But very few more noticeable ways. And that’s the key. That’s what big brands will pay outrageous money for. That intensity of notice.Read More
One of the consistent findings from ad pre-testing and tracking research is that bits of ads go missing from people’s memories. A key reason for this finding is that our brains can’t deal with too many concepts at one time. I am not just speaking for myself, there is plenty of evidence that our conscious work space is limited, and things that don’t make it to our conscious attention, get forgotten.
So how does this memory loss happen? It all has to do with how our brains work. Our brains are incredibly good at focusing our conscious attention on things that are emotionally charged and relevant to us, and ignoring everything else.
Think of the “cocktail party” effect, where we can suddenly hear our name being mentioned across a crowded room, even though we were not previously conscious of that specific conversation taking place. The use of our name – something emotionally charged and relevant to an individual – implies the conversation could be important to us so our conscious attention is drawn to it.
The downside of the “cocktail party” effect, is that the conversation we were having with the person next to us, gets ignored for as long as our attention is distracted. A few seconds later, we suddenly realize we have no clue what the other person was saying to us.
The same sort of effect takes place in video ads. Our attention gets directed to interesting and enjoyable aspects of the ad – the emotionally charged and relevant bits – and that distracts our attention from other elements. No attention, essentially means no memory.Read More
As you probably know, we spend most of our time helping our clients craft brand strategy, including the brand’s promise and its unique value proposition. We draw on in-depth qualitative and quantitative category, customer and competitor research, brand equity studies, the organization’s core competencies, management’s strategic intent, and the knowledge and creative intuition of many informed individuals. When we arrive at a brand strategy that has widespread support throughout the organization, it has been well vetted as the most advantageous approach. The way we have arrived at this is not trivial, nor is its conclusion.
The next step is the frequent source of significant difficulty. Now it is time for a creative team to translate the brand strategy into a name, tagline or marketing campaign. Some brand promises or unique value propositions are extremely difficult to translate to a pithy tagline or campaign, especially one that has not already been used by another organization. And creative people don’t like to be constrained. If they come up with an idea that they love, it doesn’t matter if it is off strategy. They know they can sell it anyway because it is brilliant (and maybe it is). The problem is, it does not reinforce the brand strategy.
This compounds the problem – some clients are not sophisticated enough to reject creative content that may be compelling but off strategy. They are carried away by the creative content while contracting amnesia about the agreed-to brand strategy.
Here are some ways to mitigate this problem. If you are in charge of developing the creative content in support of the brand strategy, NEVER present a creative option that is off strategy. If other people are developing the creative content, invite them to be active participants in (or at least observers of) the brand strategy formulation. Also, establish creative content evaluation criteria that includes “reinforcement of the brand’s promise and unique value proposition” as a primary criterion.
If you succeed in your brand strategy formulation but then stumble in translating that to creative execution, all of the previous work has been for naught. Don’t let down your guard during creative translation of the brand strategy. Be ever vigilant in seeing a strategy through to its proper execution.
Don’t miss The Un-Conference: 360° of Brand Strategy for a Changing World
Featuring John Sculley October 17-18, 2013 in Miami Beach, Florida
A unique, competitive-learning workshop limited to 50 participants
As in Your marketplace — some will win, some will lose, All will learn
Sponsored by: The Brand Storytelling WorkshopRead More
A number of years ago, Stephen Dubner asked which industry makes the most misleading ads? His personal opinion was the companies that advertise closets. As he says, they always seem to be pieces of furniture that are bathed in sunlight, and that are owned by people who have three pairs of identical and very clean pants or skirts, but never anything unshapely like an accordion, or hockey stick. (A bit like those layouts in “Have a more organized life” books!)
But what really interested me was the list in the comments that followed as to who, in the minds of readers, was even more responsible for misleading consumers. It included: political campaigns; fast food companies; tobacco brands; alcohol makers; pharmaceuticals companies; car makers; mobile phone companies; oil companies; diet and weight loss programs; the beauty industry; internet providers; chewing gum manufacturers; household product manufacturers; soft drink companies; casinos …
Misleading’s an interesting term. It implies of course that people can’t see that they are being told things that are, how shall I put this, overly optimistic. Yet research by Lab 42 seems to show that consumers are very aware that what they are seeing may not end up being what they get. According to Lab 42’s research, 76% of respondents think advertisements contain exaggerated claims, and a mere 3% think ads are “very accurate.” So, if the vast majority of people don’t believe what they see, half of that number wish claims were more accurate and nearly one-third of viewers feel they know what ads are trying to do, what function does advertising serve today?
If you look at some of the best advertising in the world, its purpose is often not to give consumers facts. It may have been once but in today’s world, with so many channels, instant search, review sites and social communities, the details and the realities are fairly easy to find elsewhere. The ads provide a cue and a logo to seek out more details elsewhere.
That’s hardly surprising. Media today is measured in bytes and memes. The key role of advertising now is to pitch an impression, a simple gem that catches people’s eyes and locks with a worldview that they have. Advertising seeks compatibility – on a range of fronts.Read More
Many of us who started in advertising did so I imagine because we saw an ad or a series of commercials that made us dream of creating something that good, something that a whole culture talked about. Recently, the people at Hubspot reached back, took five of the great campaigns and had them reimagined for today.
It was an intriguing exercise. But while the creatives seemed to focus for the most part on how much the channels had changed in the time since the campaigns were forged and the implications of that for execution and campaign distribution, I thought it would be interesting to look at what some of these iconic ad campaigns did that made it possible for them to have such a deep cultural impact in the first place.
What’s clear is that iconic status is not about the nobility of the product. As CNBC observed, AdAge refers to its selection of the top advertising campaigns of the 20th century as including: “two air polluters, nutritionless sugar water, one reviled carcinogen, two companies infamous for the use of virtual slave labor, one purveyor of savory cardiovascular time bombs, two booze peddlers and one cosmetic product preying on the vanity of women.”
Nevertheless, the campaigns are considered paragons of advertising. Why? And more particularly, what can we learn from the success of those campaigns?
Many of the great brand campaigns have nudged the social boundaries in one way or another. But the push-back to prevailing attitudes is contextual, often far from aggressive and pitched as much as a social message as an advertising one. Clairol for example didn’t just promote hair coloring, they made it the most natural thing in the world (in every sense), even using the suggestive headline “Does she … or doesn’t she?”. At one level Clairol’s campaign offered women options, but at another, the campaign challenged the very definition of femininity, adding fun, cheekiness and a modicum or three of impropriety. Two decades later, the infamous Brooke Shields’ Calvin Klein campaign carried that same risque suggestiveness. Later, the infamous “Hello Boys” ad featuring Eva Herzigova for the Wonderbra would literally stop traffic.Read More