We all hate watching bad ads. But almost everyone loves great ads. Witness the huge public anticipation of the SuperBowl campaigns, and the viewership for Gruen. (By the way, we won their “Pitch” segment. It was our deep voice that did it.)
What is interesting about advertising is that, as with art, everyone has a view on what makes a great ad. And I’ll also bet that everyone reading this has at some point thought up what they think is a great advertising idea.
Like anything worth doing, however, great advertising is harder than it looks. What’s more, from a client’s perspective, advertising has brand risk (and career risk) written all over it.
So what’s behind the campaigns we love? Here are some essential elements.
First, there needs to be a solid business case for the campaign. For DPR&Co, if it doesn’t make business sense to run a campaign, forget it. We need to be able to quantify, in hard numbers, the required investment, the campaign response we need to generate and the financial outcome this will drive. We aim for positive ROI in the first full year, with increasing ROI as the campaign gains a foothold and as we leverage benefit from the up-front expenses involved in strategy and creative development.
Second, we look long and hard at the target audience. We seek to find the most narrowly targeted group possible to ensure maximum ROI. But we also need to account for influencers and gatekeepers – those that can reinforce the target audience’s view or divert it. Smart audience segmentation can also result in tighter targeting, even among customers for different products from the one brand.
Next, we agree with our client on what we’re trying to achieve. Are we on a brand-building journey with a long view of ROI, or do we need a more immediate direct response outcome? This response may not be sales; it could, for instance, be measured in rapid shifts in attitude (this is especially important for behavioural change campaigns for our government clients).
We also look at what powerful thing the campaign needs to say about our client’s brand. Our recent Chisholm campaign, for example, was designed to bring to life the Institute’s intense focus on the human experience of its students.
Then we decide what we want to leave the audience with – the residual message. Again, with the Chisholm campaign, we sought to show Chisholm’s determination to be a leader in its sector – the excitement brand in TAFE.
Finally, we look at tone of voice. This is the most underappreciated element in communications. Your tone of voice can make your campaign stand out in your category, but only if it’s tight, specific and genuinely different from your competitors. Just a tip: if your tone of voice has more than three words in it, it’s probably useless.
Only after all these vital, data driven, practical and business-focused steps are in place do we even begin working on the art of advertising. But these are the steps that ensure we create ads you don’t mind seeing on TV.