Why an ad should be hot like a sunrise

It’s well known that there has been more change in the marketing landscape in the digitally dominated past five years than in the previous 50.

And while marketers need to embrace that rapidly changing world, they also need to remember the fundamentals learnt over half a century about what gives an advertising campaign the best chance of delivering sales.

After all, advertising was invented to sell products and services. So what is the key common element in the most effective campaigns, in Australia and overseas? Is it awareness, cut-through or share of voice?

Are they emotional, rational or emotional and rational? In fact, the factor that links these campaigns is that they are famous.

This might seem obvious, yet few marketers, or ad agencies, include fame as an objective in their briefs, or buzz metrics in their campaign’s key performance indicators. Fame is seen by too many marketers as an added extra, rather than the focus of a brief.

Research has proved that famous campaigns, ones that create buzz and ‘talkability’, generate the most effective results. Think Cadbury’s Phil Collins-loving gorilla or AAMI’s ‘Rhonda and Ketut’. These campaigns have become part of popular culture. They are shared through email and social media, and turned into spoofs and memes. They get talked about, literally, and by many people.

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) in Britain studied almost 900 campaigns drawn from two decades. ‘Fame’ campaigns had a 72 per cent chance of being effective. Pretty good odds. And they were better at driving sales, profits, loyalty, margin and penetration.

Real examples on our doorstep are similarly hard to ignore. Thanks to AAMI’s ‘Rhonda and Ketut’, a campaign created by Ogilvy Melbourne, kids in the schoolyard and adults at work made “hot like a sunrise” part of the vernacular. Facebook pages popped up with more than 100,000 likes and Rhonda and Ketut t-shirts in Bali outsold Bintang singlets. Their romance was discussed on the major TV and radio breakfast shows, and Ketut’s appearance at the Melbourne Cup made all of the newspaper and magazine social pages.

The TV ad that made its debut during half-time at the AFL grand final trended on Twitter. That’s buzz and talkability, that’s fame. The result: a 24 per cent increase in quote inquiries for AAMI.

Examples from years gone by include the ‘breaking up’ campaign for NAB, ‘Name on a can’ for Coca-Cola, ‘Not happy, Jan’ for Yellow Pages and ‘I still call Australia home’ for Qantas. Marketers and advertisers can argue about whether the airline should still be
running that campaign, but they ought to agree that it needs another famous campaign to help sales and profits.

Interestingly, the IPA research gives marketers some hints about the make-up of famous campaigns. Only 18 per cent of the campaigns with buzz and talkability were created around rational, information- based messages. Conversely, 56 per cent used a purely emotional strategy. This goes against the common default position of many whose urge is to provide information. If we go back to the Cadbury gorilla, the temptation might have been to talk about the chocolate, its taste and quality. Instead, Cadbury went with an emotional campaign and the results were outstanding in many parts of the world.

This is also a choice for state and federal government departments – to create highly emotive campaigns, such as the graphic roadsafety ads of Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission, or checklists of information, such as the original National Broadband Network campaign? History and the IPA research suggest the former option.

So the odds are stacked in favour of famous campaigns when it comes to the most effective outcome for your marketing dollar. Yet few brands take advantage of this. And given that in today’s digital social media environment, fame is more important then ever before, marketers ignore this special ingredient at their peril.