Sunday, March 1, 2009

Simple Ads that Work

Waiting for a friend at the Red Hat yesterday, while idly sipping my drink and trying to make less obvious that I was sitting alone at a bar, I spaced out watching commercials. When one of my recent favorites came on, Jim Beam’s “the girlfriend,” (sort of an Absolute rip off, but w/e) it hit me that even though I thought it was clever, it didn’t move me to buy the product. So how good was it really?

It could be that I’m a little overexposed to advertisements and thus place a higher value innovation. But, when I began thinking about ads that have really 'worked' on me, moving me to buy a product, in most cases they were simple, well-constructed spots with a straightforward message.

A few simple favorites:

The old Snickers campaign, “Not going anywhere for a while... grab a Snickers,” worked on me like a charm. It demonstrated that a Snickers Bar could be a filling snack rather than just another candy. The message reworked the brand’s attributes and benefits; no longer a sweet sensation, it was now an accessible, substantial food. And, this encapsulated the selling idea: never feel hungry with Snickers (an idea still present in their ads today). Pretty soon it became the first thing I reached for when I was on the go.

The Burger King “Whopper Freak Out” spots had me craving the flam broiled burger for a week. Classic reverse psychology, and I gave right in. After seeing the ad for the first time I distinctly remember turning to a friend and saying, “Woah, I really want that, right now.” My dream is to one day make a commercial that does that.

Hall’s new campaign, “a deep breath of fresh air,” is very similar to the Snickers campaign in that it changes the products benefit - making cough drops relevant beyond the context of a cold. I bit. Last week I grabbed a pack before getting on the train, thinking about the commercial as I swiped my debit card. There was no trick, the ad simply convinced me to buy them.

Sham Wow! Don't even get me started on this spot, woah. I still almost dive for my phone when I see it. Two minutes of glorious, mind blowing demonstrations; "did you see how it got the cola off that carpet!" I yelled into the living room when I heard the ad come on from across the apartment. But, then again, I have a soft spot for low budget infomercials - "Beware of imitators!" love it.