According to CBS News, people went from seeing roughly 500 ads a day in the 1970s to over 5,000 a day in the 21st Century. So, as an advertiser, how can you cut through the noise and make your ad stand out, especially in our DVR and “skip ad in 5 seconds” culture? Here are some simple tips to keep in mind to help your ad hold on to people.
Your ad needs to offer something the viewer wants or needs. As advertisers, we must earn their attention. Maybe your ad is funny, so you offer some entertainment. Maybe it’s informative, letting people know something they didn’t know already. If you’re not offering any value, there’s no reason for people to care about your ad, and if they don’t care, they don’t remember.
Nothing turns someone off from your ad faster than when it’s annoying. Some marketing books will tell you annoying is good, because it grabs people’s attention, but the last thing you want is people seeing your ad and muting the TV because they hate it. You don’t want a Pavlovian conditioning on your audience that associates your brand with obnoxiousness.
Stay on Brand
If you’re around my age, you probably remember the classic “Mr. Plow” episode of The SImpsons. In it, Homer hires a fancy marketing firm to make a TV commercial for his snow plow business, and they make a Citizen Kane-inspired art-house non-narrative ad that has nothing to do with his business. If people can’t even tell what your ad was for, it’s not a useful ad.
There’s a big difference between a stand-up comedian in a bar at 2am and your commercial showing during primetime Home Improvement reruns. Never, ever include anything sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, or mocking people’s religions or beliefs in an ad. You don’t want to lose your customers/clients by making them offended and angry. That’s self-defeating. The last thing your CEO wants is for your company to be trending on Twitter with hashtag [company name] racist ad. (Bonus tip: run your ad by a bunch of people before releasing it, just in case you totally missed something that’s going to be obvious to a lot of people).
Keeping these basic ideas in mind will help your ad reach its intended audience, and help push your brand/products without alienating the people you’re trying to reach. You want to be the Bud Light/HBO Super Bowl Ad, not that horribly racist panda bear ad from a few years ago (I’m not linking to that one. Trust me, you’re welcome).