What makes a great ad?
According to AdAge's Top Ad Campaigns of the 21st Century ads which change the way consumers think about the world and those built on strong marketing foundations using accurate and relevant insights and then artfully executed are some of the most awarded.
In his post summarising the Best Ads of the 21st Century, David Aaker speaks of the best ads being those that 'broke through the clutter with inspired strategy and execution'. Assessment of AdAge's top ads were based on 3 criteria: 1) Was it a watershed ad or campaign, discernibly changing the culture of advertising or the popular culture as a whole? 2) If it itself was credited with creating a category, or if by its efforts a brand became entrenched in its category as No. 1, or 3) Was it just simply unforgettable?
All too often the campaign and creative development process focuses on making an ad 'viral' - good ads are fervently shared but not necessarily because socialisation was the core objective and specifically directed in a manner to achieve this. A campaign's ability to go viral may well be part of a good strategy, but ads are more freely and rapidly shared when they resonate; when a brand 'connects' with its audience, generally through emotion or humour. As Aaker further points out, "humour attracts attention, aids memory and detracts from competitive counter-arguing." It's easy to argue some of these ads absolutely had viral at the heart of their campaign vision, though it's important to recognise that for every brilliant ad, which succeeds socially, there are countless failures that have overcapitalised in the viral stakes we never hear about.
If an ad fails to connect, cannot deliver a message succinctly and efficiently, confuses, or is either not memorable or doesn't illicit a call to action, it fails.
Here are my favourite 3 ads. The reasons they work are simple; target audience resonance, use of a human connector (humour or emotion) and/or the utilisation of a novel, pin-point insight.
1. Apple: PC v Mac. Everyone loves the underdog, right? The Apple v PC ads deliver the computing world's version of David and Goliath in a cheeky and non-aggressive way all the while highlighting the dominant capabilities of the Mac. It's a clever slant on delivering a message on product benefits.
2. Metro Trains: Dumb Ways to Die, whilst was highly successful from a viral perspective, it was also a game-changer when it comes to public service announcements. A memorable, out-of-the-box strategy and execution that redefined the category. Warning: you won't get the tune out of your head for a couple of days.
3. P&G: Thank You, Mom tops the charts in the emotional stakes for those in its core demo. You'd be hard pressed to find a mum who this doesn't resonant with. Get your tissues out before you press play!
Oh, and a honourable mention to these guys. (Disclaimer: Meerkats fascinate me. I think because they look curious, naturally, so this was immediately on my radar). The ad focuses on the potential confusion of the brand name with something utterly ridiculous and armed with an obtuse choice of 'talent' (including an over-the-top accent) it seems to enhance audience recall of the brand. The humour works (from a brand awareness point of view), at least for this sample of one. Simples!
Do you have a favourite?
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