There are several occasions when I see or hear about an idea or invention and I just sit back in awe and say, “that is freakin’ brilliant.” The concept is usually so good that I literally get the chills, immediately followed by a bit of disappointment caused by the realization that I should have, but didn’t, come up with that idea first.
Although this can happen with things like the iPhone or the Aston Martin, it usually gets me most when I see a print ad or television spot. I usually always say afterwards that I would like to meet that person and shake their hand for being, as they say in the Guinness commercials, “Brilliant!”
As an undergraduate I remember contemplating switching majors from the dental route to marketing/advertising. I took a road trip to San Diego to think the career switch over. Along the way I saw a billboard for the redesign of the new Volvo. It was a teaser campaign with a silhouette of the new redesign, wrapped with the words “REVOLVOLUTION.” Volvo was evolving its design and image, and one word explained the whole story. Simple yet powerful … and definitely brilliant! That ad stuck with me for years. The same symptoms were present … the chills, the disappointment and the desire to meet that creative person. I knew then I would love to do advertising for a living and hopefully someday could have the same effect with my messaging on someone else’s brand.
One of the most recent spots that struck me in a similar fashion was the new Snapple spot. Snapple had huge success as a tasty all-natural fruit juice in the early 90s and built its campaign around the tagline, “Made from the best stuff on Earth.” The new spot is simple, fast, witty and just what Snapple needs to help rebrand and reintroduce the drink. Taking the leverage of its previous successful campaign, they are marketing their new products with the concept that they have found “better stuff.” What can be better than the best stuff? Even better stuff! They have earned “Ehsan’s brilliant stamp of approval.” A handshake awaits the creative director.
These few examples remind me of how powerful a brand message can be and the emotions that arise from it. When coming up with the message, it is definitely a collaborative effort between the marketing company and the client. The message needs to be clearly defined, and a strong communication needs to occur initially between the team before any creative is developed. You have to remember, the message guides the creative, not the other way around.
There is a spot we always discuss internally that shows strong creative with bad messaging. It is a Super Bowl spot that ran several years back for a company called EDS. This Ross Perot owned-company goes through this long sequence of cowboys and their family tradition of herding cats. It is interesting enough to keep you intrigued, but then it tries too hard to connect the creative with its messaging. After your minute of investment, you are let down and still have no idea what services the company really offers. The same mistake was made with their next spot. So much for learning from your mistakes.
Bottom line, keep messaging on task and use creativity to make it memorable and strike emotion. Remember, a team effort and strong communication will make this a success. And if you do that, I may just want to shake your hand and call you “Brilliant.”
If you have examples of ads you like or commercials gone bad, please comment below.
Ehsan Kaveh is an Account Executive at Imagine Marketing.
Contact Ehsan at firstname.lastname@example.org