What makes a killer advertising campaign?

It’s a hard question and there are many views on what makes an advertising campaign great. Is it winning awards? Is it shifting more products? Or growing the public awareness of your product? In order to determine if a campaign is successful or not, you first have to determine what the desired goal is for the campaign. If your goal is achieved – no matter how big or small – then I would say you have succeeded.

There isn’t one right or wrong way to produce a great advertising campaign, and because it’s a creative process, often people will have different opinions.  Here are my thoughts on what makes a killer advertising campaign.

Be brave

Going where no one has gone before will always be more interesting than copying another tried and tested idea. No one likes to see the pre-roll ads on Youtube before the video you want to watch is played. Geico realised this and turned it into an advantage. Geico decided to run a series of 15sec ads on youtube where you missed the middle of the ad. They did it in a way so most people actually ended up wanting to watch the long version of the advert.

Be simple

Say one thing at a time. Don’t try and get multiple messages across at the same time. Do one thing but do it well.

Be true

If your target audience recognise themselves in your ad, then they will identify with the ad. All parents want their children to be safe. Here VW recognised this truth and used it for their Polo campaign.

Be inspiring

If you feel inspired by a brand then you’ll buy their product rather than the competitors. When Always did their latest advertising campaign they decided to take a stand and inspire young girls instead of doing another ad showing some blue water being poured on a sanitary pad.

Be shocking

Sometimes the best way to get a message across is to shock the audience. This campaign shocked me enough to sign their petition which was their desired effect.

Be cool

Sometimes all you want is for your brand to be cool. Being cool can be tricky as we are all different and what one finds cool, another person finds lame.

Many perfume ads haven’t got much to say so they try and achieve a mood or a character you would like to be e.g. a beautiful model.  A great example of this is Kenzo’s ad directed by Spike Jonze. Some will say it’s strange many will say it’s cool.

Be creative

There are many ways of thinking outside the box. When an Argentinian breast cancer organisation came up against censorship problems when showing how to examine your breasts for cancer, they came up with a very simple solution: They used male breasts instead.

Use your USP

If you have a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) then use it. Guinness beer is one of the only beers on tap where you pour it over twice, which means the customer have to wait for their beer if poured correct. Obviously this is a negative USP but it’s still a USP and instead of discarding this insight they turned it into an advantage by making an advertising campaign with the strap-line ‘Good things comes to those who wait’.


Be funny

If the product or company you are advertising does not have anything unique to say then you could be funny. No one minds a good laugh and it’s a lot more memorable than a product demonstration.

You’ll never be able to achieve all the above things at once but if you do at least one then at least you’ll have a chance of standing out from all the generic advertising that we see every day. If you love the idea of doing something differently this year but the creative juices aren’t flowing – myself and the team at Cuckoo can help.

If you are still stuck for ideas then last but not least you can always resort to violence. A bit of slapstick humour can go a long way…

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