The Grayson Report

What Makes Good Advertising So Good?

By Suzanne and Bob Grayson | October 31, 2007

Back in July, we began a series of 10 Rules for Good Advertising. The first was to establish some emotion-connection with the viewer. This one is designed to tap into the consumer’s psyche to create an important sense of “they’re on my side.” The more that the emotion-connection is relevant to the target market and product benefits, the better it will work. Irrelevant (although positive) emotional connections just don’t work hard enough in that precious space. Too much advertising (especially in skin care advertising) is process/ claim-oriented without an emotional context. Anyone remember the original Oil of Olay ads from Vicks Chemical? Pure story-telling emotion! That’s what built the share to capture P&G’s attention.

A Call to Action

Our No. 2 is a call to action. These rules are not necessarily in order of importance as each makes its own contribution—sometimes more and sometimes less. And, of course, some are more applicable to commercials than to print. But, nevertheless, rules are rules.

Somewhere in an ad (generally toward the end/bottom), you must ask for an order. We tend to think of this as permission-to-buy. That is, a compelling reason for action (See the July 2007 issue of Happi for a fulsome discussion). Gift-with-purchase may be the best example. “Free” or “sample” are still the most persuasive arguments. But there are others. For example, if there is an in-book tester sample—or if the message conveys, do not postpone action. “If you don’t buy now, you’re going to regret it,”—you are on the way to a sale. “Is your house properly insured?” “If your Mother falls and can’t get to the phone our device will signal you.” “The next time you get that scalp itch, be ready.”

On a more socially-conscious level, you can give away some profits to a worthy cause, use only “green” packaging, or make all your products refillable, etc. The best way to get to a call-to-action is to merely ask yourself, “Will this ad (or commercial) induce immediate trial?” Or, at least, move the viewer one step closer. If not, try and find a “what’s in it for me, now,” to entice the consumer. The classic advertising model looks like this:

Unawareness to Awareness to Comprehension to Conviction
We have now completed more than 150 theAdAudit analyses in 13 industry categories from appliances to watches, and there isn’t one ad in 20 that provides any sort of incentive to trial, a key motivator of conviction. Retail newspaper ads know all about this need, but rarely will you find call-to-action in magazine advertising - especially in beauty advertising. Simple words like “try” or “see” are good links to benefits which might be acted upon with dispatch. Next time you read an automotive ad, see if you can find an 800 number. If at all, it is in two-point type at the very bottom. It looks like something the sales department insisted on, but the art director wasn’t about to allow it to mess up the ad. Many ads now list the company’s website, but they don’t even provide a reason/benefit to take the time to go there. What a waste!

Just for Fun

You may have decided for yourself that mascara ads generally make the lashes obscenely long–and you said to yourself, “Are they real?” Well, as you no doubt know, L’Oréal and Avon were cited in England for embellishing their mascara ads with fake eyelashes. It’s not as though they committed treason or gave away state secrets—so we are not inclined to take it too seriously, after all, most companies have been doing it for years! But it did make us recall two other embarrassing advertising situations.

Many years ago, Campbell’s got in the soup (so to speak), when its vegetable soup ads were caught with clear marbles in the bowl, which made it appear as if it was loaded with veggies. Then there was a powerful demo for Colgate’s aerosol shaving cream. It depicted the ability to “shave” sandpaper after a quick application of its cream. Share increases steamed ahead. Alas, they were just "shaving" loose sand as a stand-in for real sandpaper! In its defense, Colgate insisted that if you let the cream soak into the paper for a few hours you could, in fact, shave the paper. So, would you care to speculate on how many U.S. mascara ads would have to be pulled if the FTC started an investigation? Who said advertising can’t be fun – at least for the uninvolved? On the other hand, a report by Datamonitor states “Some 86% of U.S. and European consumers said that they have become more distrustful of corporations within the past five years.” Further, the report indicates that only 60% or less of consumers believe claims made by manufacturers! And a final note from Datamonitor, “Brands which consumers associate with authenticity, heritage, honesty and competence are best placed to succeed.” Maybe we should take some of the fun out of advertising.


Opportunities Everywhere

You just have to be creative. This summer, Nine West offered a G-W-P that included a bottle of O.P.I nail lacquer to spiff up your toes in their sandals! It’s hard to say who benefitted most but we’d lean toward OPI. The ad would have been better with some great shots of sandals, (you know how women are about shoes) to target the market, visually. Good going O.P.I.

Kudos for Dior

Last year when we were in China, we couldn’t help but notice the high-impact, fashion presence for Dior beauty in windows and cosmetic counters—with that same image carried through in Chinese magazines. We had always held Chanel as the frontrunner in the couture/cosmetic mix, but here it looked as though it had some catching-up to do. At the time, we remarked that the Dior look in China was much more dramatic and European than in the U.S. Now, we found these ads in a recent issue of Allure.

 In this print ad, Dior makes a strong connection between fashion and cosmetics.
No doubt, this new fashion push started with the success of its Diorshow mascara—a hit in the line—which established a strong link to French fashion shows. Now, real Dior fashion has been appearing in its cosmetic ads this year to make the connection more solid in the consumer’s mind—with the positioning line, “BACKSTAGE Makeup, Catwalk-inspired makeup.” Chanel, move over. (What do you think of these lashes, falsies, or not?). Some pages further in the book, you’ll find its latest supporting, editorial-style advertising page which generally uses a celebrity makeup artist authority, a variety of product “how-to,” and now, low and behold—permission-to-buy! A sample, exclusively at Macy’s! See, you can do it. Nice job!

If You Have A Point To Make...

How do you say, “We’re tiny” (competitive advantage/consumer benefit) without saying, “We’re tiny?” Associate yourself with all things tiny. This is an ad for o.b. tampons from McNeil. You have to look long and hard to realize that it is their ad. The copy, if you could read it here, or even in real life (which you can’t because it’s white text on a pink background), tells you about tiny o.b. and presses the point that these tiny items are essentials that “we have to schlep around with us everyday.” So, we have tiny size-reinforcement in a creative way, reader involvement and a great website name to boot: mighty, at which you can get the stylish carrying case. How’s that for “permission-to-buy” and incentive to go directly to the website?

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