Ep 23 - What is Adverting?
What is advertising? In this post I explain how advertising works and share 10 examples of effective advertising. Techniques and stratagies used by the best advertising agencies in the world.
What is Advertising?
There’s a general consensus that advertising is the ruiner of all things good. Concocted by Satan’s little helpers, as Bill Hicks would say. But to state the counter argument ‘Every body hates advertising until they want to sell their car or washing machine.’ And arguably more importantly for that matter, we also wish to sell ourselves to potential lovers, business leads or to people we admire. What makes anyone a worthy addition to anyone else's life in this exceedingly crowded world? That is the question right? Because so often it's who you know not what you know.
Selling therefore, is a fact of life, much of it manipulative and misleading, but the vast majority relatively innocent, but never the less integral to the development of our life’s. As the film Collateral Beauty points out. Almost all selling comes down to Love, Time and Death. The desire to be loved. The wanting of more time.
And the fear of death. All intrinsically human fears, but how do ads address these fears?
After working and studying advertising for many years, I believe I have a better grasp of what sits behind the iron curtain, than 99% of people, and I feel I have a pretty attuned sense for what advertisers are trying to convey through their ads. While the ideas change, the desire of most communication is fairly repetitive. Behind complex industry terms like 'life time value' 'cost per acquisition,' and 're targeting,' there’s a simple set of goals, a kind of basic hierarchy that brands and advertisers look to progress through in order to make them a regular occurrence in our lives, and ideally, on our bank statements.
As you may or may not know already. I recently launched a creative resource called Creative Catalogue – what I’m coining as the ultimate resource for creative professionals. In the podcast today I’m going to use this resource to peel back the layers, and show you examples of some of the entry level strategies that advertisers are using to manipulate you into buying their products.
I’m going to be sharing audio bites from a number of well-known ads, but if you’d like to dig deeper and watch the full examples. Then I recommend going over to Ricky Richards.com/podcast. Where you’ll find all the show notes for this episode including video links and more.
That’s enough ramble from me, so first, let me share with you what I believe are the five basic goals of advertising.
Number 1. Create Awareness & Recall
Number 2. Inform Customers
Number 3. Build Trust
Number 4. Establish A Lifestyle
Number 5. Become Integral
These are what I would call, ‘the five steps to significance’. Many brands poses some of these, very few have all. To date, there’s roughly 100 tried and tested methods to achieve these key goals, with many more being created as technology and creativity evolves. But today, I’m going to share just two examples for each strategy, starting, with awareness and recall.
1. Awareness & Recall
Awareness is how many people know a brand exists, and recall is how likely people are to remember a brand for it’s respective purpose. Awareness and recall are integral to brand growth, because if people don’t know your brand exists, they’re unlikely to buy or consume what you have to sell. The problem, from a small business perspective is that awareness and recall can be extremely difficult to achieve, because in order to achieve it, brands typically need to spend a huge amount of money, and where does that money come from if you haven’t got awareness and recall to sell product? This is the battle all new brands face, and here are a few strategies brands use to overcome it.
Strategy 1: Copy repetition
Copy repetition is used to great affect in raising awareness and retention of key statements that an advertiser wishes to highlight. The repetition will very often be auditory and be accompanied by some form of beat that will stick in the mind of consumers. Copy repletion is also useful if you wish to draw attention to a name of a product or benefit that is hard to remember. By making these terms the focus of the advertisement and repeating it, it increases memorability. On occasions, advertisers will look to utilize the ‘illusionary truth effect’ where repeated exposure to a particular claim will be in interpreted as accurate over time. By posing their product benefits in a compelling way with a clear CTA, brands are able to ingrain themselves in the minds of potential customers, making them more likely to be searched for or spoken about and ultimately, purchased. A little warning, some of these examples are annoying as can be. They’re brief, so stay with me. I’ll get the most annoying one out the way first…
Example 1: Go Compare
Example 2: The Clapper
Strategy 2: Catch Phrase
The best advertising slogans often act as a mini mission statements, and highlight why a brand exists in a simple and memorable way. Good slogans convey value to potential customers. Ideally short in length, but depth in meaning. They should differentiate the brand from competitors and emphasize positive feelings associated with the brand. When executed well, slogans become part of the everyday lexicon, which aids in awareness and recall.
Example 1: Rimmell London
Example 2: Gillett
As you can see some of the strategies employed to increase memorability are relatively rudimentary. But yet they work, repeating the name of your company or creating a great slogan is just the first of many strategies you can use to help people get to know about your product or service.
Next up, Second on the List. Informing customers.
2. Informing Customers
Once people know about your brand, you need to inform them about what it is you do. Without this it’s unlikely that people are going to know to use your product or service. More than just letting them know what you do, it helps to point out what makes you unique from other providers, after all, it’s relatively unlikely you have a monopoly. So what makes your service so special? Let me showcase once again, some of the basic strategies advertisers use to convey information.
Strategy 3: Comparison
Comparison ads are a great way to grab attention by making direct comparisons to other relevant offers, and highlighting how the product or service is significantly better from competing brands. Comparison ads remove the hassle for people to compare for themselves, and hence it’s gets consumers closer to a purchasing decision. When the market is crowded and differentiation is difficult, comparing your product to others is the quickest way to highlight the benefits of your product over another. This strategy works particularly well for underdog brands, who can compare themselves to market leaders and therefore pull themselves into the same brain space when customers are making their purchasing decisions.
Lets start with arguably the most famous use case of this strategy: Apple vs Mac
Example 1: Apple vs Mac
Example 2: Domino's
You know what I said about challenging market leaders: I didn’t know Dominos made a competitor to Subway I do now: Dominoos vs Subway. That’s enough tit for tat, another way of achieving the same result is..
Strategy 4: Product Demonstration
Product demonstrations are often used if the product you’re trying to sell has a genuine differentiating factor. The trick with great product demonstration however, is to showcase the product benefit in a novel way. It’s typical that advertisers will look to take the product out of it’s typical context and show an extreme use case, therefore reinforcing how the basic needs of the product are met easily. Often times product demonstrations will identify a problem you never knew you had before, which sets the scene for the ad to then provide a solution. This creates a new desire among consumers, who didn’t necessarily know they were missing out on said feature prior to watching the commercial.
Example 1: Penn Tennis Balls
Example 2: Fiber Fix
3. Building Trust
Next on the list of advertising goals is to build trust with your audience. When we trust someone, we’re more likely to believe that individual, and there’s no difference with advertisers. By establishing a rapport, and remaining consistent, brands build enough trust with consumers that they’ll invest in their products or service , how do they do it? Here are some strategies.
Strategy 5. Influencers
Every individual that has a large following tends to have a particular way of being that people can identify or resonate with. Consumers trust these people, so brands will often use these engrained beliefs as leverage to build trust and attach the same values of the individual to their products or service. This works in two respects, it instantly gives any given product the credentials associated to said individual, and it also works to boost their promotion as they leverage the audience of said influencer. Influencer advertising works at its best when the brand embraces the style of that individual as apposed to trying to work against it.
Lets see some of the best use cases. Starting with a classic spot that Nike did with Casey Neistat for the release of their Nike Fuel Band.
Example 1: Nike
Example 2 : Adidas
Strategy 6 – The Heros Journey
The heroes journey shows viewers where an individual or brand came from; it shows the underdog beat the odds through hard work to become successful. It’s rage to riches, told from the perspective of a brand. These stories resonate with people because we too have faced struggles, and we therefore put ourselves in the shoes of the characters, which results in a feeling that the brand is deserving of respect for having overcome numerous challenges that we ourselves have not overcome. This makes the narrative interesting, as we seek to uncover information that we can apply in our own lives, which ultimately leaves consumers with a positive belief about the brand, making them more susceptible to purchase as a result.
Example 1: VirgiN
Example 2: Stella Artois
If a brand is capable of achieving the three goals of awareness, information and trust then there’s a good chance that it’s capable of being a well known and profitable brand. But the next two steps, are what can turn a brand from well known among a small amount of people, to a globally recognized name that has a well curated following of super fans.
4. Create A Lifestyle
The first, of these final steps, is to create a lifestyle. Creating a lifestyle is in effect identifying that your product isn’t for everybody, which is okay, because there’s a lot of people in the world, so not appealing to everybody is still enough to make you very wealthy if you can capture all, or often times, just a fragment of that market. This is important because you want to build super fans that propagate your message for you, and you can only do that if people feel that the brands values align with those of their own. Even products that do appeal to everybody, almost always started out appealing to a core demographic, as we’ll find out in the final stage, but for now, let me show you a few entry level strategies brands use to establish a lifestyle with their brand.
Strategy 7: Celebrity Endorsement
Celebrity endorsements refer to individuals with high levels of notoriety and public awareness endorsing a product. Figures such as actors, politicians, business people, performers and sports people are just a few examples of the types of individuals typically used in celebrity endorsement. The celebrity should ideally align with the brand and be a plausible consumer of the product they’re endorsing, though it has been known to do the opposite for dramatic effect. Including celebrities has a number of upsides, it can help potential customers get over the feeling of social risk, aid in repositioning a brand around a particular lifestyle, adds instant credibility and brand value, attracts new users, builds awareness and can revitalize brand image. Ads seen to have a familiar face also stand a better chance of capturing attention in a saturated market and establishing recall.
Example 1 : Volvo
Example 2: Gatorade
Strategy 8: The Feeling
Feeling advertisements call attention to the way a product is going to make you feel as a result of owning the product. Feeing ads play on the insecurities of people by highlighting that they lack the exciting and fulfilled feeling that possessing the product can bring to their life. When consumers feel good, they’re more likely to convey positive emotions about the product to others. By imbuing the product in imagery that conveys a positive feeling, the consumer is more likely to unconsciously manifest those beliefs regardless of whether the product actually delivers or not. Feeling ads will often look to push the feeling to extremities so to accentuate how different/better life would be thanks to the product.
Example 1: Southern Comfort
Example 2: Honda
5. Become Integral
So..We’ve come along way since trying to work out how to get people to know that our brand exists, not only do we know who they are, we now know what they sell, we trust them, we know the lifestyle we’re buying into, so we come to our final goal. To become integral, a legacy, a symbol of the people. The best brands in the world like Nike for example, sell you a way of living your life. They’re the brand for street savy, elite athletes who have style and confidence. They’re the people who ‘Just Do It, without asking questions. Likewise Apple are a digital innovation company. They believe in design, quality, and making things great from the inside out. They appeal to the creatives, the misfits, the rebels, and even if that isn’t you, who would deny that you don’t deep down want that to be you, which is why they’re so successful.
And for this I’m going to share with you just one strategy.
Strategy 9 : Brand Values
Brand value ads look to draw attention to the values that any given brand posses, which it believes will resonate with that of their target audience. Brand value ads show consumers what the brand believes in, it doesn’t try and appeal to everyone, but instead it subconsciously implies to consumers that if you agree with these values then maybe our brand is the right fit for you. By conveying their values brands instill themselves in a consumers mind so powerfully that strong advocates cannot imagine buying anything else and will pay premiums to display the brand. This works well, if the product and company as a whole, genuinely reflects the values they're looking to convey. When this happens, roles are reversed and the consumer will pay the company in order to advertise their brand so that others can see that they poses the values of the brand
There are countless examples of this, but here are a few snippets from some…
Example 1: Finlandia
Example 2: Apple
And that's it. That is what Advertising is. A carefully curated set of strategies used to aid brands in progressing through the 5 steps to significance. And I'll repeat those so you can write them down if you so wish.
Number 1. Create Awareness & Recall
Number 2. Inform Customers
Number 3. Build Trust
Number 4. Establish A Lifestyle
Number 5. Become Integral
As I've already pointed out. The best brands in the world make themselves integral. If you want to be a bad ass biker, you best have a Harley. A punk, some doc martins. A designer. Well a Braun wristwatch would be nice. Powerful executive? You’ve got enough disposable cash to spend £1000 on a Mont Blac pen right? Even, you, hipsters of Shoreditch, you think you’re original because you wear washed demin jeans, puffy jackets and limited edition shoes? Sorry to break it to you. But you’ve been sold a way of life.
Consumerism works on the basis that almost all people are desperate for other people to believe that they are the picture that they carry around of themselves in their head?
Because if you have a vision for who you want to be, then there’s no better way to convey it, than to align yourself with the products that showcase those aspirations for you. And that’s how brands win. Even I, the person preaching the secret, am not immune to this. I could do everything to avoid being receptive, purchasing products blindly, or buying on practicality alone, but even that has it’s own associations.
The truth is, I consciously do what many unconsciously do, to convey values that I think align with my aspirations and the people I’d enjoy spending my time with, which at the end of the day is the task that brands have. To connect people who share common beliefs and lifestyle aspirations with products and services that will hopefully help people to live a better and more meaningful life.
That’s all from me today. A lot of work went into the creation of this episode. So if you enjoyed it, please, please do the right thing, and share it with your friends, it would mean the world to me, and don’t forget to subscribe on Itunes or Stitcher if you don’t already. Also, if you found the content of this episode particularly interesting, then do consider signing up to creative catalogue.co.uk. That’s the resource I’ve put together which includes all the insights I’ve unveiled today plus many, many more. Along with resources like lists of all the best recruitment companies in London, and links to all the prevalent Ad journalists active today, extensive agency list if you're trying to find the right company for you. and least I forget, a direct line to me, so you can pick my brains and make requests of resources you'd like me to create, for your benefit.
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Until next time. Bye for now.