All Ads Are Not Created Equal

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It’s not really about whether or not advertising is inherently good or bad.

Advertising is a paid channel to distribute information about a business. How that business conducts itself (quality of the products/services, customer service, uniqueness, innovation, etc…) is its own creation. How that business sells those products/services is also its own creation. The general population tends to throw the saying, “advertising sucks and we hate it,” around a lot. This is because a lot of advertising is not done well. The other side of this equation is that when advertising is done well, it is somewhat invisible (it generates interest and sales) or it is heightened to the point of entertainment (the kind of content that people love to share and talk about… it becomes a part of the cultural zeitgeist). In fact, when advertising is done well, it almost doesn’t feel like advertising at all.

Talk about a can of worms.

There are countless channels to get a brand’s information across. Text, images, audio, video, short form, longform, print, air, television, digital and on. This marketing mix is a complex and fluid media challenge for most brands to face. How much of the advertising should be about branding and awareness, versus performance and conversion? Is the creative appropriate for both the channel that it’s on, and the audience of that channel? Are we targeting appropriately? Are we understanding, optimizing and tweaking as we go? Do we even know what success looks like?

It can all get thrown out when there’s no budget and no time. 

That’s the other big challenge. Limited budget. Not a lot of time. It’s the constant gripe of the marketing department and their supporting agencies. The counter to this, of course, is that great creativity isn’t always about the budget and the time, but the idea and the execution. We’ve seen some of the best creative advertising done with little means (champagne on a beer budget, as it were). This week, were were exposed to this, once again. Ladies and gentleman, may I present to you FiberFix and their Redneck Drives A Duct Tape Car Off A Cliff!

What do you think?

I watched this commercial. All five minutes of it. Not thirty seconds. Five minutes. A commercial. For five minutes. As of this writing, 23,700+ people have liked their Facebook page. The video has over 5 million views on Facebook and over 500,000 on YouTube. It’s still going. Just wait until the mainstream media runs with it. Many are saying how closely it resembles the work of the famed Dollar Shave Club video that came out four years ago, and is currently clocking in at 23 million+ views on YouTube alone (btw, Dollar Shave Club was bought by Unilever for $1 billion earlier this year). How does FiberFix (or Dollar Shave Club) do it? There are some key learnings…

  • A unique product.
  • A live demo that demonstrates the differentiation.
  • A simple demo on how to use the product.
  • A product that is easy to use.
  • A plethora of examples as to how to use the product.
  • A funny story, where the brand is not taking itself too seriously.
  • A strong script, casting and production direction.
  • A story that can be told even without the sound.
  • A strong story (not just a funny one).
  • A bit of edge in the humour (not trying to be everything to everyone).
  • A brand that was willing to take a chance.
  • A video – that if a consumer shares it – will make that consumer look good.

Yes, this is funny, but it doesn’t always have to be funny.

The misnomer is to think that this works because it’s funny. It is a core component for this brand, but all brands can use these other forms of expression (laughter, surprise, shock, sadness, etc…). If this were shocking (just the stunt with the car), this might have been as effective. If you can layer in a multiple of these edgier emotions (more extreme feelings), all the better. This ad does that. There is not just laughter, but there is surprise and shock as well. It’s all pulled together very effectively. Ultimately, this isn’t about this one ad, it’s about the greater misconception that people hate advertising. They don’t. People hate bad advertising.

Don’t make bad ads.