Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Resistance is Futile

Someone once said that 'advertising is what you do when you can't go talk to someone'.

Though advertising gets a bad press from time-to-time (in the marketing literature, not just in the mainstream media), it nevertheless serves a useful purpose, at least from an economics perspective. Advertising provides information to consumers (and businesses) about choices available to them - whether comparing one product with another, or simply letting them know that a product or service exists.

But advertising is an inexact affair - not only is 'half the money wasted', as the old adage goes, but sometimes we can't even be sure how effective the other half was.

Still, advertising isn't alchemy - you might be interested to know that there are apparently only twelve kinds of ads in the world as follows:

  1. The Demo - just show your product in action and let it sell itself (iPhone anyone?)
  2. Show the Problem - what's missing in your customers' lives, and why your product fills the gap
  3. Show an Analogy - if the problem in 2 is a 'sensitive one'
  4. Comparison - why your product is better than the competition
  5. The Story - spin a compelling yarn with your product 'placed' at the heart of it
  6. Show the Benefits - and then reveal your product is the reason
  7. Testimonial - real stories from real people about your product
  8. Create a Character - someone (or thing: Energiser Bunny?) that personifies your product
  9. Symbolise the Benefit - RedBull gives you ...
  10. Celebrate the User - putting the consumers of the product at the heart of the message
  11. Proud Origins - whether the country or the inventor of the product
  12. Parody - subtle (or not) references to films, TV programmes, genres to showcase your product
For a delightful visual guide to all 12 types (including some amazing YouTube videos of actual ads) just check this. So there, if you really can't go talk to someone, then you (or your agency) can at least try something different.

Apologies, by the way, to my ad agency colleagues for spilling the beans on all their trade secrets ...

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