This is “Make the Message Sell: SS+K Ensures that All Components Tell the Brand Story”, chapter 12 from the book Advertising Campaigns: Start to Finish (v. 1.0).
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Figure 12.1 Two Months to Launch!
You’ve done your homework. You understand your audience, you’ve identified the objectives and strategy for your campaign, and you know what media you’ll use to reach your target consumers. You’re almost there—but you’ve still got to decide how to say what you want to say.
Should you focus on reason or appeal to the heartstrings? Should you spell out the arguments or show visually why your idea, product, or service is worth a serious look? Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words; other times it’s just a pretty picture. Usually, you need both words and images to get your ideas across, so you need both copywriters and art directors to do their magic. In this chapter we’ll take a look at some of the options the advertiser has available to make it sell.
After studying this section, students should be able to do the following:
The keys to superior advertising are resonance and relevance. A great ad makes a deep impression that reverberates inside you and stays with you, while it creates a bond between you and the product. “Just do it.”
RelevanceThe extent to which the images, ideas, concepts, and advertised product attributes overlap with the target consumer’s needs, wants, values, context, or situation. is the extent to which the images, ideas, concepts, and advertised product attributes overlap with the target’s needs, wants, values, context, or situation. ResonanceThe extent to which the images, ideas, concepts, and advertised product attributes connect deeply in the target consumer’s mind and heart. is the extent to which these images, ideas, concepts, and advertised product attributes connect more deeply in the target’s heart and mind. Let’s look at a few examples of how the two factors work together and then dig into more detail about how exactly to make a message sell.
Say your client is a bank that wants to promote its home mortgage product—an especially tough proposition in this era of foreclosures and banking scandals. The objective of the message is to show that your mortgage terms won’t be as burdensome as the competition’s. How can you get this message across? It’s not the sexiest idea in the world, but then again, saving money does turn a lot of people on.
Ad agency Hall Moore CHI faced this challenge with its client NatWest, a British bank. Art director Richard Megson and copywriter Matthew Davis worked together to create an animated TV ad that showed a man struggling under the weight of a huge mortgage. He threw his burden into a washing machine and shrank it to manageable size. The message was simple and clear—the idea of shrinking a huge mortgage was appealing and relevant to the target audience of homeowners.“Simplicity Originality Relevance,” Precision Marketing, August 24, 2007, 17. This execution delivers both relevance with its image of a large mortgage (as many consumers struggle with these today) and resonance as it graphically depicts the tempting process of shrinking one’s debt in the wash. If only it were that easy in real life!
Now let’s consider Adidas’ “Impossible Is Nothing” campaign. The campaign originally launched in 2004 to coincide with the Olympics. Ads featured great athletes of the day in clever integration with great athletes of the past. The visuals made it seem as though the athletes were interacting across the ages. For example, in the ad “Laila,” boxing great Muhammad Ali goes into the ring with his boxer daughter, Laila Ali. The two spar and Laila eventually lands a punch that sends her dad backwards into the ropes. The film of Muhammad was culled from two of his fights from the 1960s, while Laila was shot in front of a blue screen so the two images could appear together.Art Smith, “Achieving the Impossible: Adidas Seamlessly Marries Past Olympians with Their Contemporaries,” SHOOT, August 20, 2004, 18. Although the athletes and the special effects were fun to watch, they were not driving home the message because, ironically, the events depicted in the “Impossible Is Nothing” ads were impossible. The impossible was made possible only via an optical illusion, and that didn’t resonate with the audience.
Fast-forward to 2007. This time, Adidas found a better way to express the idea of doing the impossible. Its new ads featured personal stories from athletes, both famous (David Beckham) and not so famous (Boston Marathon runner Kathryn Smolen). In the spots its agency 180 Amsterdam/TBWA created, the athletes told true stories of challenges that they had overcome—their own “impossible.” For Olympic swimming superstar Ian Thorpe, the challenge was an allergy to chlorine—an allergy that sidelined him until he gradually overcame it.
The athletes hand-draw a picture as they talk. The simple drawings are primitive; they remind us of childhood and thus echo the storyline. For example, twenty-two-year-old American sprinter Allyson Felix draws herself as a stick figure with legs that look like ski poles as she explains that kids taunted her with the name “chicken legs” when she started out as a little kid playing basketball. Later, she says, “I came out for the track team and kind of wanted to prove everybody wrong.” Next we see her as she wins an Olympic medal. “People putting you down can drive you to do things you didn’t even think you could do yourself,” she proclaims.Barbara Lippert, “The Impossible Dream: Super Athletes, Simple Drawings Make Adidas Ads Hypnotic,” Adweek, April 16, 2007, 44; http://www.adidas.com/campaigns/usiin/content. Although the drawings are animated by artists at Passion Pictures, the feeling is personal and human. As Jason Oke of ad agency Leo Burnett Toronto commented, “After watching these I get inspired and I actually get what it means to attempt something that everyone else thinks you can’t do.”
Just as an ad can resonate with a person, elements of an ad ideally work together to reinforce each other as the childhood stories and drawings of the Adidas campaign did. Another example is an ad for a diet strawberry cheesecake that pairs the luscious image of the cake with the words “berried treasure,” to evoke the connotation of hidden delights and richness that lies inside. The play on words requires some thought, which rewards viewers with satisfaction when they “get it” and strengthens the connection among all the elements—words, images, product, brand, and meaning.
The common denominator among the most successful ads is that they create an emotional connection with the brand. They appeal to the heart, not just the mind.
Zales: Greatest Marriage Proposal Ever(click to see video)
This Zales commercial uses an emotional appeal to sell its celebration diamond.
A large-scale study that analyzed award-winning campaigns found that the most effective ones focus on emotional, rather than rational, appeals.“Marketing Theory: Everything You Know is Wrong.” Marketing, June 13, 2007, 28. What’s more, the Gallup organization reports that customers who are “passionate” about a brand deliver two times the profitability of average customers.
We simply can’t take the emotional contact a company has with customers and the emotional impact of its brand for granted. For example, Procter & Gamble traditionally advertised its Pampers diapers on the basis of their performance in keeping baby dry. But, as Jim Stengel (recently retired), chief marketing officer at Procter & Gamble, said, “Our baby-care business didn’t start growing aggressively [in the early 2000s] until we changed Pampers from being about dryness to being about helping Mom with her baby’s development. That was a sea change.”Quoted in Geoff Colvin, “Selling P&G,” Fortune, September 18, 2007, http://money.cnn.com (accessed October 12, 2007). The lesson: wrap your practical products with an offer that appeals to emotions. People are more loyal to brands they “feel,” not just those they think about.
Of course, not all brands necessarily bring a tear to the eye—the point is to figure out just how the brand resonates with its audience and to develop messages that reinforce this relationship. One well-known branding consultant argues that there are three ways a brand can resonate: it can hit you in the head, the heart, or the gut:Marc Gobé, Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People (New York: Allworth Press, 2001).
A large-scale study of prime-time commercials found that the likeabilityThe extent to which the audience has positive feelings about an ad, judged by the ad’s ingenuity, meaning, energy, warmth, and nonirritating character. of a commercial was the best single predictor of its sales effectiveness.Alex Biel, “Love the Ad. Buy the Product? Why Liking the Advertising and Preferring the Brand Aren’t Such Strange Bedfellows After All,” Admap, September 1990; Wendy Gordon, “What Do Consumers Do Emotionally with Advertising,” Journal of Advertising Research 46, no. 1 (March 2006): 2–10. The author noted that “consumers first form an overall impression of an advertisement on a visceral or ‘gut’ level. To the extent that this impression is positive they are likely to continue to process the advertising more fully.”
He found five factors that constitute an ad’s likeability:
So, at the end of the day, no matter how you do it, you want people to like your ads. That sounds like a “no-brainer,” though many advertising messages don’t achieve this simple objective. Why is it so important that people like your ad?
Refer back to Chapter 11 "Execute on All Platforms: SS+K Goes into Production Overdrive" and the three campaign options SS+K presented to msnbc.com. Which of these do you think has the most emotional resonance for the News Explorer?
An advertisement can grab you in a lot of different ways—but it needs to grab you in some way. One way is to be relevant to your situation and needs; another is to be resonant with your desires. If nothing else, be sure people like your ad—it’s all downhill from there.
After studying this section, students should be able to do the following:
All ads need some type of appealA psychological basis that motivates the viewer toward the advertiser’s goals.—a psychological basis that motivates the viewer toward the advertiser’s goals. The creative team can choose from a variety of appeals to help structure the advertising. Let’s have a look at the most common ones.
Does sex sell? A sex appealA psychological basis that motivates the viewer toward the advertiser’s goals by titillating the viewer with actual or suggested nudity or sexual behavior. can be vaguely suggestive and subtle, or it can hit you over the head—like the Carl’s Jr. ad that shows a soapy Paris Hilton washing a car (as if she would ever wash her own car!). It’s important to consider cultural differences in gauging sex appeal, as some countries allow more exposure of skin or sexual situations than others. In the United States, a passionate kiss between man and woman is perfectly fine, whereas in India such a display in public could be punishable by a fine, three months of jail time, or both.
There’s no doubt that sex gets our attention—and companies often deliberately push the envelope. Yves Saint Laurent promoted its men’s fragrance M7 with a full frontal nude photo of former martial arts champion Samuel de Cubber in fashion magazines like the French edition of Vogue. “Perfume is worn on the skin, so why hide the body?” said the ad’s designer, Tom Ford. Some mainstream publishers, however, featured a cropped version of the ad.“YSL Goes Full-Frontal with Men’s Fragrance Ad,” October 18, 2002, http://news1.iwon.com/odd/article/id/275228%7Coddlyenough %7C10-18-2002::10:43%7Creuters.html (accessed August 7, 2008). Similarly, Abercrombie & Fitch used nude models in its quarterly magalog but ended up dropping the campaign after loud and sustained protests from feminist groups and groups like the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families.David Carr and Tracie Rozhon, “Abercrombie & Fitch to End its Racy Magazine,” New York Times Online, December 10, 2003, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage. html?res=950CE2D71F3DF933A25751C1A9659C8B63 (accessed August 7, 2008).
Given the potentially negative reaction, do sexual appeals work? Products for which sex appeals work best are those aimed at teen or college-age buyers or for products like wine, perfume, beauty products, and lingerie. Advertisers need to tread lightly and avoid the temptation to go all-out: although erotic content does appear to draw attention to an ad, a sex appeal runs the risk of alienating the audience. And ironically, titillating the viewer may actually hinder recall of the advertised product. In one survey, an overwhelming 61 percent of the respondents said that sexual imagery in a product’s ad makes them less likely to buy it.Rebecca Gardyn, “Where’s the Lovin’?” American Demographics (February 2001): 10.
In 2007, Dial rebranded its Soft & Dri deodorant with a focus on the sexy rather than on the functional attributes of the deodorant. “We’re trying to take the brand to a more emotional and less functional area,” said Vanessa Kamerer, Dial’s brand manager for Soft & Dri. To revive the brand, Dial conducted research and learned that consumers associated Soft & Dri with soft and sexy. Kamerer thought this was an important advantage and distinction for the brand because most other brands in the sector focused on technology. Kamerer pointed out, however, that the brand had to be careful with the “sexy” positioning. “Sexy is a tricky one with women,” she said. “For a lot of women sexy can be trampy or slutty and that’s not what we wanted.”Constantine Von Hoffman, “Dial Corp. Tries Bringing ‘Sexy’ Soft & Dri Back: Rebranding Makes an Emotional Appeal to Women,” Brandweek, January 29, 2007, 9. She’s right: research shows that female nudity in print ads generates negative feelings and tension among female consumers, whereas men’s reactions are more positive.Michael S. LaTour, “Female Nudity in Print Advertising: An Analysis of Gender Differences in Arousal and Ad Response,” Psychology & Marketing 7, no. 1 (1990): 65–81. In a case of turnabout being fair play, another study found that males dislike nude males in ads, whereas females responded well to undressed males—but not totally nude ones.Penny M. Simpson, Steve Horton, and Gene Brown, “Male Nudity in Advertisements: A Modified Replication and Extension of Gender and Product Effects,” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 24, no. 3 (1996): 257–62.
In some cases, the purpose of the nudity is simply to create buzz. In autumn 2007, actress Alicia Silverstone posed nude (though strategically covered) in a print and a thirty-second TV ad for activist group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), saying that she attributes her slim figure to not eating meat. Comcast Cable pulled the ad, however, saying that it was too racy.
A campaign by Scotch-maker Johnnie Walker was a bit more subtle; billboards in California featured a seductive “Julie” and the message, “My number is 213-259-0373. And I drink Johnnie Walker.” Drinkers who called the number heard a prerecorded female voice deliver a sales pitch and then an invitation to order Scotch by phone. During the eight months that the billboards were up in nineteen cities, 526,000 people called Julie (perhaps hoping for more than a sales pitch). This response sounds impressive. But did the campaign motivate callers to buy the brand? Unfortunately not. In fact, sales of Johnnie Walker declined 5 percent during the year of the campaign.Randall Rothenberg, “Age Hasn’t Mellowed This Agency,” New York Times, April 13, 1990, D1.
Students who don’t read Launch! will never land a job when they graduate.
A fear appealA psychological basis that motivates the viewer toward the advertiser’s goals by emphasizing negative consequences that can result unless a consumer takes the recommended action. dwells upon the negative consequences that can result unless a consumer takes the recommended action. A recent advertising campaign for the Volkswagen Jetta took this approach; spots depict graphic car crashes from the perspective of the passengers who chatter away as they drive down the street. Without warning, another vehicle comes out of nowhere and brutally smashes into their car. In one spot, viewers can see a passenger’s head hitting an airbag. The spots end with shots of stunned passengers, the damaged Jetta, and the slogan “Safe happens.” The ads look so realistic that consumers have called the company asking if any of the actors were hurt.Brian Steinberg, “VW Uses Shock Treatment to Sell Jetta’s Safety, Ads Test a Risky Approach with Graphic Car Crashes; ‘Any of the Actors Hurt?’” Wall Street Journal, April 19, 2006, B4.
Brinks Home Security(click to see video)
This Brinks commercial uses a fear appeal.
Advertisers often resort to fear appeals when they want to bring about a radical behavior change, such as driving responsibly, eating healthily, or quitting smoking. Other fear appeals use ostracism by others—due to body odor or bad breath or limp hair or yellowed teeth or using outdated products—to create feelings of insecurity that the consumer can overcome by doing—guess what? A British print ad for a deodorant depicts a geeky young guy with the caption: “Yo, Sewer Boy!” Subtle.
How well fear appeals work depends on how easy it is to comply with the ad’s message. A switch to a stronger, longer-lasting deodorant to avoid embarrassing stains is quite doable, and it is easy to see a benefit (if indeed the deodorant works). In contrast, fear appeals that discuss the negative consequences of smoking have to climb a higher hill because the behavior is extremely hard to change (despite good intentions) and it’s harder to detect the (long-term) health benefits. Sometimes the fear appeal is too strong and makes consumers tune it out, especially if the ad does not present a solution. Scare tactics may also backfire as people cope with the negative feelings or guilt the ad inspires by deciding the threat does not apply to them.
One famous TV commercial that relied on a heavy dose of fear was an ad for presidential candidate Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964. The campaign showed a little girl counting daisy petals in a field, “1, 2, 3.…” Then, a voice-over started a countdown, “10, 9, 8…” leading to the image of a telltale mushroom cloud as an atomic bomb exploded. “These are the stakes,” the voice-over said, concluding with “the stakes are too high for you to stay home” while the screen displayed the words “Vote for President Johnson on November 3.” This classic spot stirred up voters’ fears about the heavy trigger finger of Johnson’s opponent, the conservative politician Barry Goldwater, and (analysts say) contributed to his huge defeat in the election.
“A guy walks into a bar.…” A humor appealA psychological basis that motivates the viewer toward the advertiser’s goals with a funny message that makes viewers laugh and feel good. makes us laugh and feel good. But it’s often difficult to execute well, because people have to understand the humor and they have to get the link to the brand. Like sex appeals, sometimes the very humor that gets our attention distracts us from remembering the ad or from influencing our behavior.
Funny Commercial(click to see video)
This E*Trade commercial uses humor to tell the story.
It also helps when viewers don’t get offended; this can be an iffy proposition especially when ethnic or national stereotypes are involved. An outdoor ad in Belgium to promote the speedy new Eurostar train service from Brussels to London via the English Channel backfired when a group of British journalists discovered it. For some reason they didn’t appreciate a poster that showed a shaven-headed English soccer hooligan urinating into a teacup. For Belgians this imagery made sense because the fan’s pose mimicked a very famous Brussels landmark, the Manneken Pis statue.Eric Pfanner, “Ad for New Train Service Strains European Taste,” New York Times Online, December 3, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/03/business/world business/03eurostar.html (accessed February 10, 2009). The Brits didn’t appreciate the architectural reference.
One advantage of humor is that it reduces counterarguingReaction to an ad message in which a consumer thinks of reasons not to agree with the message.; this occurs when a consumer thinks of reasons not to agree with the message. Because the comedy distracts us from our tendency to come up with reasons why we shouldn’t change our opinions, we are more likely to accept the message a humorous ad presents, as long as it does not insult or make fun of us (somehow laughing at the other guy is OK).
Humorous appeals are seldom used by banks, which tend to project a more staid image. That’s why Community Bank System decided to use a lighthearted campaign with the message “Bank Happy.” “We really wanted to find something different, something that was unbank-like and, if you look at those headlines and the disclosures, there’s humor built in,” said Hal Wentworth, the bank’s director of sales and marketing. The campaign was designed by Mark Russell and Associates and took five months to produce. How does the bank use humor? To establish the tie to happy experiences, one ad says, “The feeling you get when you eat chocolate. Now available in a bank.” It even brings amusement to the fine-print copy at the bottom of the page. Although most people skip this, the fine print in the “Chocolate” ad says, “If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking there’s some kind of catch. Something that requires us to write more about it in the fine print. But there isn’t. Oh sure, we could go on and on about ourselves. Like how we’re committed to serving rural areas. And how most of our people have been working with us for years. And how all of our loan decisions are made locally by folks you’ve probably cheered with at soccer or baseball games. But we won’t. Instead, we’ll just tell you that when we say ‘Bank Happy,’ we mean it. We don’t want you to ‘Bank Reasonably Contentedly’ or ‘Bank Kinda Sorta Pleased.’ We want you to Bank Happy. And we’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.”Quoted in Karen Krebsbach, “Community Bank’s ‘Bank Happy’ Sets Cheerful, Playful Tone,” US Banker 117, no. 7 (July 2007), 28. These days, more people in the banking industry could probably use a good laugh.
Hillary Clinton and several other presidential candidates introduced humor into their political ad campaigns in late 2007. Surveys showed that the public thought humor was a good idea and a welcome change from negative ads. By the fall of 2008, candidates were practically becoming regulars on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show, and Saturday Night Live. People enjoy laughing, and it makes them more comfortable with the candidates. “Of course, the humor had better be funny,” added Rob Earl, of Watson, Earl & Partners. Nancy Newnan of Catapult Communications also welcomes jokes—within limits. “A dose of humor is always welcome, as long as they keep it in its place and not forget the importance of projecting the image of a world leader.” But not everyone wants punch lines from politicians. Humor is too subjective, said Alienware’s Juan Carlos Hernandez. “Humor…leaves a lot to the public’s interpretation, which at the end is negative because what I may think is not actually what the candidate was aiming for.”Quoted in Ken Wheaton, “Political Ads that Provide a Laugh?” Advertising Age, August 6, 2007, 4. What’s your take on this issue—does humor have a place in political campaigns, where the issues are serious and the stakes high? Should Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert do campaign ads—or run for President themselves?
The logical appealA psychological basis that motivates the viewer toward the advertiser’s goals with a rational, informative message describing the product’s features, advantages, and price. is a rational one; it describes the product’s features, advantages, and price. Although most of the appeals we’ve talked about so far have emphasized emotion, that doesn’t mean that logic has no place in ads. Indeed, advertising that provokes a strong emotional response without providing sufficient product information is unlikely to change behavior and increase market share. It breaks through the clutter but doesn’t necessarily induce people to buy. This is what the Center for Emotional Marketing discovered when it performed a meta-analysis that combined the results of eight separate research studies. The results held true across a range of consumer product categories from food and health and beauty to automotive and technology.Leslie Picot-Zane, “Is Advertising Too Emotional?” Brandweek, January 9, 2006, 18.
Purely emotional advertising is memorable but doesn’t build business. The advertising connects with consumers, but it fails to make use of that connection with the credible information needed to change people’s minds. This is particularly true of humor appeals. A study conducted by McCollum/Spielman shows that 75 percent of funny ads have an attention response rating equal to or higher than average, but only 31 percent are actually more persuasive.
The solution? Advertisers need to strike a balance with campaigns that integrate product information and emotion. Logic and emotion work in concert to help consumers make decisions.Sang-Pil Han and Sharon Shavitt, “Persuasion and Culture: Advertising Appeals in Individualistic and Collectivistic Societies,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 30 (1994): 326–50. Effective advertising needs to convey both seamlessly.
Finally, advertising can be relevant to consumers when it uses a values appealA psychological basis that motivates the viewer toward the advertiser’s goals by relating to people’s strong underlying beliefs about priorities in their lives and morality.; this type of message relates to people’s strong underlying beliefs about priorities in their lives and morality. A research team conducted a comprehensive study of values across thirty countries to identify universal values that people hold regardless of where they live. The researchers found six categories of values that are universal:
Certain countries exhibit a predominance of some of these values over others. For example, more than one-half of all Swedes are Intimates, which means that they emphasize social relationships as guiding principles in their lives. In contrast, 46 percent of Saudi Arabians identify Devout values as their guiding principles, while 52 percent of South Koreans are Strivers. Another study found that North Americans have more favorable attitudes toward advertising messages that focus on self-reliance, self-improvement, and the achievement of personal goals, as opposed to themes stressing family integrity, collective goals, and the feeling of harmony with others. Korean consumers exhibited the reverse pattern.
Creating advertising messages that resonate with your target audience means identifying and appealing to the values that motivate their behavior. For example, Taco Bell’s advertising campaign “Think Outside the Bun” appeals to Creatives who seek novelty and learning new things. In contrast, the “Night Belongs to Michelob” campaign appeals to Intimates who value romance and friendship. Finally, British Petroleum’s “Beyond Petroleum” campaign appeals to Altruists who value social responsibilities and preservation of the environment.Simeon Chow and Sarit Amir, “The Universality of Values: Implications for Global Advertising Strategy,” Journal of Advertising Research 46, no. 3 (2006): 301.
Occasionally ad executions invoke a values appeal when they show how a product goes against a group’s values. This approach appeals to target consumers who are rebellious or nonconforming. To appeal to teenage viewers, the CW network launched a campaign to promote the TV show Gossip Girl that includes quotes from the Parents Television Council, an advocacy group that has criticized the show for its graphic inclusion of sex and drugs. One ad shows two of the underage characters together in bed, below a caption that reads “Mind-blowingly inappropriate!”Brian Steinberg, “Need a Slogan? Ask Your Harshest Critic; CW Proudly Declares ‘Gossip Girl’ Is ‘Mind-Blowingly Inappropriate,’” Advertising Age, July 23, 2008, http://adage.com/mediaworks/article?article_id=129837 (accessed July 24, 2008).
It’s interesting to note that individualityA values appeal that emphasizes self-expression, most closely associated with the Fun-Seeker audience segment. is a value most closely associated with the Fun-Seeker segment. Countries that have a high percentage of Fun-Seekers in their population include the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Germany. Creating a winning brand position in these countries might entail targeting the Fun-Seeker buyers with a brand that can offer an avenue to self-expression. In contrast, countries where individuality ranks lowest are the Devout-dominant countries of Indonesia, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, where duty and faith outweigh personal expression. Self-expression appeals would not work well in those countries.
An advertising appeal is the psychological basis the agency uses to create relevance and resonance with the target audience. Common appeals include sex, humor, fear, logic, and values. There is no one perfect appeal; the advertiser needs to calibrate the characteristics of the consumers with the message to ensure that consumers aren’t turned off or don’t tune out the message because they don’t care for the appeal.
After studying this section, students should be able to do the following:
An executional frameworkThe definition of how an ad is structured, such as lifestyle, scientific, or slice-of-life. defines how the ad is structured. Executional frameworks get your interest, create the desire for the good or service, and motivate you to purchase it. Let’s look at five types of executional frameworks.
A lifestyle frameworkAn execution that shows how the product fits into the consumer’s life. shows how the product fits into your life. For example, the “Denny’s Always Works” campaign emphasizes that the nation’s largest full-service family restaurant chain is open twenty-four hours and has a variety of meal choices that meet a range of unique dining needs. Each TV commercial opens with a consumer describing why Denny’s fits perfectly into his or her life. The ads are shot on a striking yellow background with simple, fun animation that accents what the person is saying. An actor portraying a Denny’s guest customer speaks, and then the spot closes with a close-up of delicious food footage. To show different lifestyles, one of the fifteen-second spots opens on a frazzled mom who is amazed that Denny’s breakfasts can fill up even her teenaged boys. “I didn’t think that was possible,” she says. Another fifteen-second spot features a young twenty-something guy saying how Denny’s extends his late night fun, because after the club scene winds down he can still get great food at Denny’s.“Denny’s New National Advertising Campaign Presents Real-Life Customer Dining Solutions,” Business Wire, June 26, 2006.
A scientific frameworkAn execution that uses research and evidence to show the brand’s superiority over other brands. uses research and evidence to show the brand’s superiority over other brands. This executional style is popular with pharmaceuticals or with food products or beauty products that distinguish themselves in terms of their health benefits. For example, when the German pharmaceuticals maker Beiersdorf relaunched its Nivea Baby line of skin care products in Europe, it put a greater emphasis on the line’s extensive dermatological testing. “Clinical tests have always been a standard in the development of Nivea Baby products,” said Ingo Hahn, Beiersdorf’s lab manager for skin care product development. “However, with rising expectations of parents regarding product safety and skin compatibility in baby care, we decided to put more emphasis on this fact with the brand relaunch in 2005, providing our consumers with even more insights in the extremely high standards of the Nivea Baby product safety policy.”Quoted in Christine Esposito, “Efficacy is Everything: Claims Sell Products,” Household & Personal Products Industry, October 2006, 51.
Drug makers spend $30 billion per year on marketing in the United States—triple what they spent just a decade ago. Are the numerous drug commercials of “shiny, happy people” we constantly see on TV too emotional and not factual enough? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration suspects they are, and it plans to produce commercials for a make-believe blood-pressure medicine to test whether images in ads distract attention from required safety warnings. The FDA frequently issues warnings to pharmaceutical advertisers about ads that it says mislead consumers to believe that drugs are safer or work better than the evidence supports. Advertisers use a variety of techniques to convey the mandatory information about their products’ dangers. These range from recitations by actors dressed as doctors to the phrases that stream across an animated blue landscape in a commercial for Pfizer’s painkiller Celebrex. In a large-scale online study involving several thousand respondents, the FDA plans to create a number of ads for the fictitious medications that include different images and text on the screen while a narrator reads the risk information. Some of the visuals will focus on the benefits of the drug, to see if that diverts attention from the safety warnings.Catherine Larkin, “FDA Hoping Fake Ads Help Monitor Real Ones,” Bloomberg, August 6, 2008, Bloomberg News, http://www.nj.com/business/ledger/index.ssf?/base/business-10/1217998570130990.xml&coll=1 (accessed August 6, 2008).
Using a spokesperson/testimonial frameworkAn execution in which a “man on the street” or a celebrity praises the product or service., a “man on the street” or a celebrity praises the product or service. The spokesperson who endorses the product need not be famous. A testimonialAn execution in which an everyday consumer praises the product or service. features an everyday consumer to whom the target audience can relate. This representative consumer praises the product or describes his experience with it. The framework implies that if the product worked for this person, it will work for you.
In the case of the celebrity, the reasoning is that if a famous person believes the product is good, you can believe it, too. For the advertising to be effective, however, the tie between the product and the celebrity should be clear. When Louis Vuitton featured Mikhail Gorbachev in an ad in Vogue, the tie was not clear. Why would the association with the former Soviet leader who brought an end to Communism motivate a consumer to buy a luxury brand bag?
This framework is effective because celebrities embody cultural meanings—they symbolize important categories such as status and social class (a “working-class hero,” such as Peter Griffin on Family Guy), gender (a “tough woman,” such as Nancy on Weeds), or personality types (the nerdy but earnest Hiro on Heroes). Ideally, the advertiser decides what meanings the product should convey (that is, how it should position the item in the marketplace) and then chooses a celebrity who embodies a similar meaning. The product’s meaning thus moves from the manufacturer to the consumer, using the star as a vehicle.Grant McCracken, “Who Is the Celebrity Endorser? Cultural Foundations of the Endorsement Process,” Journal of Consumer Research 16, no. 3 (1989): 310–21.
For celebrity campaigns to be effective, the endorser must have a clear and popular image. In addition, the celebrity’s image and that of the product he or she endorses should be similar—researchers refer to this as the match-up hypothesisThe principle that, in order for a celebrity to be an effective spokesperson, the celebrity’s image and that of the product he or she endorses should be similar..Michael A. Kamins, “An Investigation into the ‘Match-Up’ Hypothesis in Celebrity Advertising: When Beauty May Be Only Skin Deep,” Journal of Advertising 19, no. 1 (1990): 4–13; Basil G. Englis, Michael R. Solomon, and Richard D. Ashmore, “Beauty Before the Eyes of Beholders: The Cultural Encoding of Beauty Types in Magazine Advertising and Music Television,” Journal of Advertising 23 (June 1994): 49–64. A market research company developed one widely used measure called the Q-score (Q stands for quality) to decide if a celebrity will make a good endorser. The score includes level of familiarity with a name and the number of respondents who indicate that a person, program, or character is a favorite.Kevin E. Kahle and Lynn R. Kahle, “Sports Celebrities’ Image: A Critical Evaluation of the Utility of Q Scores” (working paper, University of Oregon, 2005).
A good match-up is crucial; fame alone doesn’t work if people know someone but dislike him. The celebrity may bring the brand visibility, but that visibility can be overshadowed by controversy that the spokesperson can generate. That’s a lesson MasterCard learned when it hired Nick Lachey for its “Major League Dreams” promotion. Shortly before the launch of the campaign, nude photos of Lachey and his girlfriend, Vanessa Minnillo, surfaced. The buzz surrounding the photos and Lachey’s refusal to talk about them during an interview completely overshadowed the MasterCard brand and promotion.Cathy Yingling, “Beware the Lure of Celebrity Endorsers,” Advertising Age, September 24, 2007. It also helps when your spokesperson actually uses the product. The Beef Board faced negative publicity when its spokesperson, Cybill Shepherd, admitted she did not like to eat beef.
Because consumers tend to view the brand through the lens of its spokesperson, an advertiser can’t choose an endorser just based on a whim (or the person’s good looks). Consider Tupperware, which decided to mount an advertising campaign to support its traditional word-of-mouth and Tupperware party promotional strategies. The brand is sixty years old and harkens back to 1950s-style June Cleaver moms. In its attempt to stay relevant and up-to-date, the company looked for a modern image of the working mom. Rather than going with a spokesperson like Martha Stewart, who would reinforce the old image of Tupperware, the company chose Brooke Shields as their spokesperson. “We’ve seen her go from a model to an actress to a Princeton graduate…then be open with issues she’s had with depression,” said Tupperware Chairman-CEO Rick Goings. That, he said, meshed perfectly with the company’s new “Chain of Confidence” campaign, which is dedicated to building the self-esteem of women and girls.Jack Neff, “How Tupperware Made Itself Relevant Again,” Advertising Age, June 4, 2007, 19.
In the “old days,” a celebrity got paid to endorse an advertiser’s product. Today, it’s quite possible she got a piece of the company instead. Increasingly, stars insist on greater involvement with the brands they hawk. Rapper 50 Cent owned part of Energy Brands Inc., the maker of Vitaminwater, before Coca-Cola bought the company for a lot of money. He personally endorsed a drink called Formula 50 that the company named after him.
Ellen DeGeneres endorses Halo pet products—but this celebrity pet fanatic (she has two dogs and three cats) also owns about 15 percent of the company. As one of the executives involved with the company explained, “Most people see an awful lot of endorsements where there is no real connection between the celebrity and product. We wanted someone who would help get the Halo brand on the map and make us known to a broader audience.” DeGeneres agrees: “Me being famous will help this company grow.”
Should a spokesperson be required to divulge a financial interest in a company she endorses?Quoted in Suzanne Vranica, “New Breed of Celebrity Endorsements,” Wall Street Journal, February 29, 2008, B3.
Celebrities can be effective endorsers, but there are drawbacks to using them. As we previously noted, their motives may be suspect if they plug products that don’t fit their images or if consumers begin to see them as never having met a product they didn’t like (for a fee). They may be involved in a scandal or upset customers, as when the Milk Processor Education Program suspended “Got Milk?” ads featuring Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen after Mary-Kate entered a treatment facility for an undisclosed health issue.
For these reasons some marketers seek alternative sources, including cartoon characters and mascots. After all, as the marketing director for a company that manufactures costumed characters for sports teams and businesses points out, “You don’t have to worry about your mascot checking into rehab.”Nat Ives, “Marketers Run to Pull the Plug When Celebrity Endorsers Say the Darnedest Things,” New York Times on the Web, July 16, 2004, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C02E1D8143AF935A25754C0A9629C8B63 (accessed February 10, 2009). And researchers report that spokescharacters like the Pillsbury Doughboy, Chester the Cheetah, and the Snuggle Bear do in fact boost viewers’ recall of claims that ads make and also yield higher brand attitude.Judith A. Garretson and Scot Burton, “The Role of Spokescharacters as Advertisement and Package Cues in Integrated Marketing Communications,” Journal of Marketing 69 (October 2005): 118–32.
In the early days of advertising, product spokescharacters were simply still-life visuals, but the decreasing cost and increased power of computing has made animation much easier. Claymation California Raisins sing and dance, and the bald, muscular Mr. Clean comes to the rescue of a housewife in distress.
An avatar is an increasingly popular alternative to flesh-and-blood endorsers. This word is a Hindu term for a deity that appears in superhuman or animal form. In the computing world it means a character you can move around inside a visual, graphical world. Now, some advertisers turn to avatars that can come to life on Web sites and in virtual worlds like Second Life. The advantages of virtual avatars compared to flesh-and-blood people include the ability to change the avatar in real time to suit the needs of the target audience.Tran T. L. Knanh and Regalado Antonio, “Web Sites Bet on Attracting Viewers with Humanlike Presences of Avatars,” Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition, January 24, 2001; Brian Morrissey, “Taco Bell to Cast User Avatars in TV Spot,” Adweek, July 10, 2007, http://www.adweek.com (accessed July 12, 2007). As one example of a company that designs avatars to represent brands or companies, check out http://www.sitepal.com.
A demonstration frameworkAn execution that shows the product in use to illustrate its performance and effectiveness. shows the product in use to illustrate its performance and effectiveness. Television and video are the best media for demonstrations. This framework is a favorite for cleaning products of all kinds (household, laundry, automotive) and to showcase the unique benefits of traditional products. Just think about all those crazy gadgets you see on TV infomercials—“It slices, it dices, it washes your car.…”
A new format for a traditional product also benefits from demonstration, such as the headache medicine HeadOn. This product’s advertising includes demonstration and (seemingly endless?) repetition of the slogan: “HeadOn, Apply direct to the forehead.” From a creative standpoint, the execution is mundane and campy, but someone is buying this stuff: the commercials have more than doubled sales.Mya Frazier, “This Ad Will Give You a Headache, But It Sells,” Advertising Age, September 24, 2007.
A slice-of-life frameworkAn execution that presents everyday people in an everyday situation. presents everyday people in an everyday situation, like riding in a car with friends. Wal-Mart used this kind of execution in a commercial that showed a young family going on vacation. The bored kids torment each other in the minivan until they finally arrive in Orlando. The title card then explains what you’ve seen: “Wal-Mart saves the average family $2,500 a year. What will you do with your savings?” The value proposition is clear: shopping at Wal-Mart throughout the year will save you enough money for a vacation. The spot ends with the slogan: “Save money. Live better.”Bob Garfield, “Long-Awaited Wal-Mart Ads are Obvious…Yet Brilliant,” Advertising Age, September 17, 2007, 69.
Andrea Learned, coauthor of the book Don’t Think Pink: What Really Makes Women Buy has found that when selling cars to women, slice-of-life frameworks are the most effective. The best car ads show average looking women and men in slice-of-life situations. “Women respond when an advertiser fits the car into consumers’ lifestyles instead of putting it on a sporty pedestal with overly gorgeous models,” she explained.Quoted in Joan Voight, “The Lady Means Business,” Brandweek, April 10, 2006, 28.
An executional framework defines how the ad is structured. Like advertising appeals, different frameworks are appropriate to different advertising contexts. These include lifestyle, scientific, testimonial, demonstration, and slice-of-life.
After studying this section, students should be able to do the following:
Ads use both words and images—indeed, all the senses. Achieving this result requires close cooperation within the creative team between copywriting and art direction.
CopywritersMember of the creative team who composes memorable and motivating text that will be spoken or printed within the ad. create memorable and motivating text that will be spoken or written within the ad. Because short headlines and copy are generally more effective, copywriters must make each word contribute to the ad’s goals.
The copywriter works with the art director to develop the concept for the ad. Copywriters must understand the meanings (both plain and hidden) behind words. For example, words like “new” are used a lot in ads because they capture our attention and pique our curiosity. Other words, such as “don’t miss” and “urgent,” arouse fear, while “how to” promises practical advice.
Words can convey facts, create musical poetry, re-create history, command action, plead, and paint pictures. Copywriting makes use of the language centers of the brain to instill emotion and create memories. “Fundamentally, I value a good combination of image and message in an eye-catching way. You want something that makes you say: ‘What’s going on here?’ The visual itself can be simple,” observes one marketing director.Quoted in Alasdair Reid, “Newspaper Advertising—The Creative Potential: What Makes a Great Newspaper Ad,” Campaign, January 20, 2006, 32.
Copywriters also work on the pacing and sounds of words to reinforce the message and emotional tone. For example, Apple Computer’s three-word “Rip. Mix. Burn.” campaign used a staccato of short imperative verbs that resonate with a fast-paced youth culture and create a subtext that Apple’s computers let you do these tasks very easily and quickly.
Sam Mazur, the copywriter on the msnbc.com campaign, worked very closely with the art director, Matt Ferrin, on each concept. While they collaborated on the overall vision, the tasks required to complete that vision are clearly split. Sam would scour the msnbc.com headlines and pair them together; he and Matt would choose the brick colors for each; and Matt would set up the art layout accordingly.
Advertisers structure commercials like other art forms; they borrow conventions from literature and art to communicate.Cf. Linda M. Scott, “The Troupe: Celebrities as Dramatis Personae in Advertisements,” in Advances in Consumer Research 18, ed. Rebecca H. Holman and Michael R. Solomon (Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, 1991), 355–63; Barbara Stern, “Literary Criticism and Consumer Research: Overview and Illustrative Analysis,” Journal of Consumer Research 16 (1989): 322–34; Judith Williamson, Decoding Advertisements (Boston: Marion Boyars, 1978); John Deighton, Daniel Romer, and Josh McQueen, “Using Drama to Persuade,” Journal of Consumer Research 16 (December 1989): 335–43. Two important structures are dramas and lectures (you’re certainly familiar with that one!). A lectureA literary form in an ad that resembles a speech; the communicator addresses the audience directly to inform them about a product or persuade them to buy it. is like a speech; the communicator addresses the audience directly to inform them about a product or persuade them to buy it. In contrast, a dramaA literary form in an ad that resembles a play or movie in which characters interact with each other about the product. is similar to a play or movie. Whereas an argument holds the viewer at arm’s length, a drama draws the viewer into the action. The characters only indirectly address the audience; they interact with each other about a product or service in an imaginary setting. Dramas attempt to be experiential—to involve the audience emotionally. In transformational advertisingA literary form aimed at getting the consumer to associate the experience of product usage with some subjective sensation., the consumer associates the experience of product usage with some subjective sensation—like the feeling you get when you watch a silhouetted actor on TV dancing energetically to his iPod.
Advertising creatives also rely (consciously or not) on literary devices to communicate these meanings. For example, characters like Mr. Goodwrench, the Jolly Green Giant, and Charlie the Tuna may personify a product or service. Many ads take the form of an allegoryA literary device that tells a story about an abstract trait or concept that a person, animal, or vegetable stands for.; a story about an abstract trait or concept that a person, animal, or vegetable stands for.
A metaphorA literary device that places two dissimilar objects into a close relationship such that “A is B.” places two dissimilar objects into a close relationship such that “A is B,” whereas a simileA literary device that compares two objects such that “A is like B.” compares two objects, “A is like B.” A and B, however dissimilar, share some quality that the metaphor highlights. Metaphors allow the marketer to activate meaningful images and apply them to everyday events. In the stock market, “white knights” battle “hostile raiders” using “poison pills” (unfortunately the knights don’t seem to be winning, at least for now) while Tony the Tiger equates cereal with strength.Barbara B. Stern, “Medieval Allegory: Roots of Advertising Strategy for the Mass Market,” Journal of Marketing 52 (July 1988): 84–94.
This British Airways commercial for Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport uses the smooth movements of fish as a device to demonstrate how fluid it is to move through the new terminal.
The term “art direction” goes beyond choosing or creating images that go into marketing communications. It is more encompassing and holistic; a good art director blends the elements of an ad into a powerful message that strongly resonates with the viewer.
The art directorThe chief designer of the ad, responsible for using principles of design to create the ad’s visuals and unify its elements and for deciding how the message will communicate the desired mood, product qualities, and psychological appeals. is the chief designer of the ad. She is responsible not only for creating the visuals but also for deciding how the message will communicate the desired mood, product qualities, and psychological appeals. In addition to the illustrations in an ad (photo, cartoon, drawing), the art director uses principles of design to unify the elements of the ad and direct our attention to the point of emphasis.
Art direction has grown in importance as advertising has become more visual. Pictures tell a story more quickly than words, and they let advertisers put the brand in a social context, which links the brand to certain “types” of people or lifestyles. According to Marie-Catherine Dupuy, vice chairman and chief creative officer, TBWA/France, “Art direction is crucial. You can find the best idea—but if it’s not well art directed, it’s killed. I say that even though I’m a former copywriter. For me, art direction is 80 per cent of the effectiveness. That’s also the place where artists from every side can express themselves and bring their full talents to the ad.”Quoted in Alasdair Reid, “Newspaper Advertising—The Creative Potential: What Makes a Great Newspaper Ad,” Campaign, January 20, 2006, 32.
Copywriters and art directors turn intangible ideas into tangible realities. The messages they create that use words or images capture the essence of the advertising strategy and translate it into something that the target understands—and hopefully resonates with.
Now that you have read this chapter, you should be able to determine how to choose the right media for client messages:
What’s your favorite energy drink? America’s consumers who want a boost without drinking coffee or cola have made energy drinks an energized product line for most beverage makers. Go into any convenience store and note the amount of shelf or refrigeration space that is devoted to these high-pep drinks. Most stores have at least one POS display for this drink category.
Which energy drink is number one? This obviously varies at any given point in time but it appears that Red Bull is the consistent leader in the industry, followed by Monster, Rockstar, AMP Energy, and Who’s Your Daddy, to round out the top five. With the popularity of the drink category we can expect more entries in the future. See any of the above products’ Web sites for more information on the appeals used to reach target markets.
Your assignment is to demonstrate how relevance and resonance have been used by the makers of energy drinks to make their product category a success. Use at least one manufacturer’s product as an illustration of your ideas.
Tired of using your hands to type and text? Are you unsure that voice-activated controls of electronic devices and PCs really work? “Thought control” may have just solved your problems. Emotiv Systems specializes in creating systems that can be controlled by brain-computer interfaces or a computerized version of thought control. The company’s Epoc sixteen-sensor headset communicates wirelessly with a PC. The user is able to think a command and have that command activated on a computer. Since the device is tuned to an individual’s processing thoughts, security of thought protection seems to exist. See http://www.emotiv.com for more details on the technology and products.
Your assignment is to designate a target market for initial introduction of the product. Next, describe the appeal format that you think would be best for the Epoc headset to use to reach the designated market. Explain your appeal choice. Conclude your assignment by selecting an executional framework that is consistent with your chosen target market and appeal. Describe the ad you would construct from such choices.
Do you remember what a Q-score is? A Q-score is a way to measure the familiarity and appeal of a brand, company, celebrity, cartoon character, or television show. The higher the Q-score, the more likely the subject measured is familiar and appealing to viewers. See Wikipedia, Google, or http://www.qscores.com for more information on Q-scores and the “star power” behind them.
After exploring information about Q-scores via your online connections, select three to five subjects and obtain their Q-scores. If you are unable to find the scores for some of your subjects, either choose other subjects or estimate what you think the score might be (be sure to put “est.” after any such score). Once you have your Q-score list, match each of your subjects to at least one product line. Note how the Q-scored subject would be an asset to the advertising for that product line. Explain your rationale and justification for your picks. Discuss the findings of this assignment in class with peers.