How to make Your Television Commercials Memorable

November 20, 2009

What makes a memorable TV commercial? It’s all about messaging. When a piece of communication is to the point, relevant, worthwhile and compelling – it will move the viewer to action.

Moving people is not magic – it’s all about effective communication. It’s called the 4Cs model, which stands for Comprehension, Connection, Credibility and Contagiousness.

Brands like Dunkin’ Donuts, Suave Shampoo and Breyers Ice Cream use the 4Cs model to develop advertising campaigns that create an emotional connection with their customers.

Use the 4Cs to objectively evaluate your television commercials: what’s working, what isn’t and why.

The First C:  Comprehension

Does the audience get the message or main idea of the commercial? What does the commercial instantly communicate? Can the audience play the message back? This confirms that they “get it” and the first C is working.  Here are three tips for better comprehension:

1) Make the message sharp and clear

2) Repetition helps

3) Keep it simple – don’t go too deep

The Second C:  Connection

Making a connection with your TV commercial means not only that the audience “gets it,” but that it resonates with them, has meaning and significance for them and usually triggers an emotional response.

The Third C:  Credibility

The audience needs to believe who is saying it (the brand voice), what is being said, and how it is being said. Otherwise, any connection begins to break down – immediately.  Credibilty is the critical C, because the audience may completely understand an advertiser’s message, and even connect with it on an emotional level – but may not buy into it.  An example is Buick’s recent failure to attract younger buyers to the brand despite a more youthful image being put forth in its products and advertising.  It’s going to take a lot more than some well-produced TV ads to convince people that Buick is more than their grandfather’s car.

The Fourth C:  Contagiousness

You want your audience to “catch the message,” run with it, and spread it around. Think of the last time you saw a TV commercial that was so funny or clever that you discussed it with your friends, found yourself reenacting it or repeated the slogan in conversations.  That’s contagiousness.  To be contagious, your commercial needs to be energetic, new, different and memorable. And most of all, it should motivate the target to do something. 

Applying the 4Cs

So now play one of your TV commercials for a few people in your target audience and ask them the following questions:

1) What is the main message?

2) Does it evoke an emotional response?

3) Is the message believable?

4) Do you feel the message will “stick with you” and make you want to react in some way?

I assure you, the answers will be revealing – one way or another.



TV Advertising Builds Brands that Last

October 27, 2009

Picture for Post #35

Let’s just cut to the chase? As it stands today, TV advertising builds brands. Internet advertising does not. There’s little doubt that once a brand is established, the Internet can and does keep the momentum moving forward, but until that point is reached all the banner ads and twitter tweets will do little to ingrain your brand into the psyche of the consumer.

Creating a memorable brand requires more than getting people to talk about your product on a social network. It requires the advertiser to make an emotional connection that television does so well.  Do you honestly think Nike would be the #1 sports brand if it wasn’t for television advertising?  Or would you feel the same connection with a little known insurance company if their AFLAC-ing duck never made its way onto your television screen? 

Sure technology has changed, but the basic rules of effective marketing remain the same. You still need reach and frequency to create most truly memorable brands.  And television advertising delivers both better than anything else out there.

Television has a rich history of transforming everyday companies into household names.  From packaged goods to insurance, from fast food to tires – television has been responsible for creating some of the most memorable advertising icons.

Who can forget …

The Energizer Bunny … Frank Bartles and Ed Jaymes … Joe Isuzu … Tony The Tiger … The Michelin Man … Mr. Whipple … Dave Thomas … Mr. Peanut … The Keebler Elves … The Maytag Repairman … The Geico Gecko … Charlie The Tuna … Ronald McDonald … Mrs. Olsen … Jared from Subway … Clara “Where’s the Beef” Peller … Orville Redenbacher … The Marlboro Man …Colonel Sanders … Pillsbury Doughboy … Chef Boyardee … The AFLAC Duck … The California Raisins … Morris the Cat … The Quaker Oats Man … The Green Giant … Juan Valdez … The Doublemint Twins … The Budweiser Frogs … Rosie, The Bounty quicker picker upper … Aunt Jemima … Mr. Clean … The Verizon Wireless “Can You Hear Me Now” Man … Betty Crocker … The Lucky Charms Elf … The Geico Cavemen

Now, recall just one advertising icon or brand that wasn’t first introduced to you on television.

I’ll wait …


What Makes a Good Retail TV Commercial?

October 1, 2009

Picture for Post #32The ultimate test of an effective television commercial is NOT how entertaining it was, but did it get results.  More specifically, did viewers respond with their hard earned money?

As a retailer, if your agency can’t produce tangible results for your business then show them the door.  And you’ll probably be ushering them out sooner rather than later, if your commercials lack any of these six basic elements:

 Does your TV commercial…

1) Motivate viewers to take action immediately.

2) Explicitly communicate your product or service’s advantages over other choices.

3) Visually arouse your prospect.  Test this by turning the sound off and see if it still has the same visual effect.

4) Inspire trust, confidence and believability.

5) Provide a single consistent message that penetrates the viewers’ minds and stays there long after the commercial is over.

6) Grabs the viewers’ attention within the first three to five seconds. Remember the remote control is your worst enemy.  You must engage the audience quickly or risk losing them.

I want to thank David Frey, author of the best-selling manual, “The Small Business Marketing Bible” for these tips.  He’s spot on!


Is it Time to Get Back to Basics with Retail TV Advertising?

August 27, 2009

Picture for Post #16With TV viewership at an all time high, how can it be that many retailers believe that TV advertising doesn’t work as well as it once did? 

Among the plethora of reasons why, I want to offer you perhaps the most obvious reason, yet arguably the most overlooked one: Ineffective TV commercials.

What you have today are too many ad agencies spending too much time worrying about entertaining consumers, and far too little time trying to sell them.

David Ogilvy, the founder of one of the world’s largest and most successful ad agencies (Ogilvy & Mather), once said this about retail advertising:

I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information. When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.”

Ogilvy backed up this statement with thoughtful insights on what made for effective retail TV advertising.  

Here’s just a sample of what he had to say, verbatim …

1)     Brand I.D.  Research has demonstrated that a shocking percentage of viewers remember your commercial, but forget the name of your product. All too often they attribute your commercial to a competing brand.  Many copywriters think it crass to belabor the name of the product.  However, for the benefit of those who are more interested in selling than entertaining – use the product name within the first 10-seconds of a commercial.  

2)     Open with fire.  You have 30 seconds.  If you grab attention in the first frame with a visual surprise, you stand a better chance of holding the viewer.

3)     Voice-over or on camera? Research shows that it is more difficult to hold your audience if you use a voice-over. It is better to have the actors talk on camera.

4)     Supers. It pays to reinforce your promise by setting it in type and superimposing it on the film or video, while the soundtrack speaks the words. But make sure that the words in the supers are exactly the same as your spoken words. Any divergence confuses the viewer.

5)     Changes of scene.  Not many people can view numerous scenes without confusing them. I can’t, and I bet you can’t either. On average, commercials with a lot of scenes (cuts) are below average in changing brand preference.

6)     Miscomprehension. In 1979 Professor Jacoby of Purdue University studied the ‘miscomprehension’ of 25 typical commercials. He found that all of them were miscomprehended, some by as many as 40% of viewers, none by fewer of 19%. If you want to avoid your television commercials being misunderstood, you had better make them crystal clear.

Do I agree with everything Ogilvy professed 25 years ago?  Of course not. Do I think that a lot of what he had to say still makes good retail advertising sense today?  You bet I do. 

And this conviction becomes stronger with every passing commercial break – where I’m often entertained, but rarely sold.

(Source: Ogilvy on Advertising)


Retail TV and Online Advertising Work Better Together

August 25, 2009

For the first time, the effectiveness of using TV and online advertising in tandem has been examined in depth.  A pioneering new study conducted by Q Media Research in the UK has shown that using TV and online together is significantly more effective for advertisers than using either in isolation. 

The study concluded that using the two media together does provide a very powerful combination across the whole process … from telling consumers about a brand they never heard of before … to helping them decide on which brands are more relevant to them.

Although it’s not always the case, the relationship does tend to flow from TV to online with TV sparking initial interest, awareness and “talkability” about a brand.   With online providing consumers with the additional information they need to aid in decision making and purchase.

This particular combination is very powerful in raising purchase consideration with retail TV advertising generally starting the process and online completing it.

 Other key findings from the study include:

  •  Using TV advertising and online together results in 47% more positive feelings about a brand than using either in isolation. 
  • The likelihood of buying or using a product increases by more than 50% when TV and online are used together. 
  • 48% of the sample group of 3,000 respondents watched TV while online, most days. Going online was second only to eating for activities that people do while the TV is on. 
  • The findings reinforce the need to ensure creative synergy between TV and online advertising:
    • TV and Online campaigns need to have a consistent theme/message.
    • The strength of each media needs to be maximized (TV for excitement and impact. Online for interaction and personalized engagement).
    • There needs to be a high level of visual synergy between the two mediums.
    • Rather than use online as a reach medium, it should be used to target those who have already seen the TV advertising as a way of extending the campaign message.

Graph for Post #15

Guy Phillipson, CEO of the Internet Advertising Bureau, had this to say:

“This important study delivers clear evidence of just how powerful and effective the TV and online combination is. In all the categories we tested, the results were very positive for both ‘soft’ brand measures and ‘hard’ purchase intent scores.”

Click here to read entire study.



Retail TV Advertising: “It’s not creative if it doesn’t work.”

August 22, 2009

1960-Philco-TV-AdAs an ad agency owner, it never ceases to amaze me on what makes this business tick. In light of the worst economy in 60 years, logic would say that agencies should be pitching their ability to make the cash register ring.

Instead, any talk about getting customers through the door is obligatory at best with a lot of agencies. Why talk about results when you can drone on and on about your agency’s “award winning” TV commercials? After all, it’s how many awards an agency wins that separates one shop from next. Right?

Who’s kidding who, it’s a lot easier for agency people to wax philosophical on their “break through creative” (the most over-wrought words in advertising) than to defend their work through the prism of increased market share and higher comparative sales.

Unfortunately, too many of my colleagues have forgotten the golden rule in retail advertising:

“It’s not creative if it doesn’t work.”

And even more prefer the easy way out through the creation of advertising that “tells not sells.” You know, the kind of commercials that spend 22 seconds setting up the joke and the last 8 seconds poorly selling the product.

So the next time, you’re ad agency is enthusiastically trying to sell you on another “award winning” television campaign. Keep them honest and ask four simple questions:

  1. What is the strategy behind what you’re proposing? (Note: “because it’s such a cool idea” is not a strategy.)
  2. Why is this campaign the best use of my advertising dollars?
  3. Is there anything else we could do that would deliver a better ROI?
  4. Will this campaign increase awareness or sales? (Note: awareness is hard to measure; sales are not.)

Then, just sit back and get ready for the show; along with developing all those award-winning commercials – many agencies have become quite adept at the lost art of tap dancing.


A Checklist for Better Retail TV Advertising

August 19, 2009

Fact: Nobody woke up this morning waiting to see your TV commercial.

Challenge: With thousands of messages fighting every day for consumers’ attention, why should they pay attention to yours? 

checklistThe Checklist

1)     Is your commercial “benefit” driven?

  • Your commercial must provide consumers with “real” benefits.  Hint: “Family owned and operated” is not one, nor are uncorroborated claims like “We won’t be undersold.”
  • Remember it’s not what you want to say, but what your customers want to hear that’s important.

 2)     Does your commercial help differentiate your business from the competition?

  • If you’re not unique on some dimension, you’re just a commodity. And commodities live and die on price only.
  • Blending in will kill your margins and eventually your business model.  Standing out ensures survival.

 3)     Is your commercial relevant to your target audience? 

  • TV advertising is not fairy dust … it can’t sell a product or service that consumers don’t want at prices they’re not willing to pay. TV advertising guarantees an audience – not success.

 4)     Is your commercial focused?

  • All display is no display.
  • When possible, boil the message down to one or two points of distinction.
  • A good commercial is designed to engage and persuade, not serve as an owner’s manual.

 5)     Does your commercial support your brand position?

  • Your commercial should reinforce the way you want consumers to think and feel about your brand.
  • It’s not always what you say, but how you say it (tone & manner) that often separates retail brands.

 6)     Does your commercial move prospects to the next level?

  • If it doesn’t then you don’t have a retail commercial, period.
  • Decide what action you want prospects to take (call for an appointment, visit your website, shop your stores, etc.) and develop your commercial with that focus in mind.