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Monday, October 12, 2015




This is part 2 of a three part series on what it takes to making advertising great again. Part 1 addressed Key Copy Words. This second articles deals with the “naked idea.” These along with the core dramatization comprise the Campaign Idea the sine qua non of effective advertising and the gateway to great advertising.


There’s only one way to determine advertising effectiveness: does it stimulate pre-determined, important customer behaviors to generate a positive return on investment in growing sales? It’s as simple, and difficult, as that! It requires a strategically relevant, meaningfully differentiated message against a select target-customer delivered via a big campaign idea. The campaign idea represents the execution of the strategic message you’ve chosen to achieve the brand’s SMART (as in Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound) communication behavior objective.


As mentioned in previous DISPATCHES’ articles, the campaign idea consists of the creative concept (which we refer to as the “naked” idea), key copy words and core dramatization. All three work in concert to transform the strategic benefit of your communication strategy into compelling customer language. All three dramatize the strategic message to get the target-customer to realize and act on it, which is to trigger achievement of the communication behavior objective.


The operative word here is “dramatize.” To dramatize is to play up something. It is about making it exciting. It’s brining it home for the target-customer in a way that s/he will realize and be moved by it. A dramatization is emotive, appealing to the heart, not just the head. The naked idea, also referred to as the creative concept or theme of the advertising, is a dramatization. It is not “what” benefit you intend to communicate but, instead, “how” it is to be communicated.


“You’re Not You When You’re Hungry”

The Snickers Brand promises to satisfy your hunger (product benefit) and keep you from suffering the adverse effects of hunger or, stating it another way, allowing you to be yourself (customer benefit). It is based in truth, at least from this “n” of one. My wife carries a food bar with her to give to me when she feels I’m letting hunger transform me from the loveable guy that I am into an irritable bore. She’ll extend the food bar to me with the admonishment “Don’t get your underwear in a bunch!” (I’d prefer a Snickers and Coke to a high-protein, low carb food bar but I obey specific dietary restrictions to control my glucose levels.)


They’re able to pay-off their strategic promise with compelling reasons-to-believe, namely peanuts, nougat, caramel and chocolate. (If this makes you “Hungry? Grab a Snickers.” This, by the way, was a previous set of Key Copy Words from an earlier campaign.) But this is not the point. The point is how they communicate the strategic benefit with the naked idea.


The Snickers Brand brings home the strategic benefit with the YNY (You’re Not You When You’re Hungry) campaign, which they launched in 2010. The naked idea is to dramatize the consequences of letting hunger happen to you by using celebrities in character (irritable, bad tempered, inappropriate, etc.) to portray how you may behave when you are hungry. All of their ads showcase this naked idea regardless of whether it is Betty White characterizing a frat boy playing football like an old woman or the late Robin Williams dramatizing a hungry football coach exhorting his team to “win one for mother Russia.” One of the more popular executions in Great Britain features Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) as a bumbling kung fu warrior suffering from hunger. (By the way, the individual executions are ad ideas within the campaign. Each carries the same DNA – the naked idea applied to a specific execution.)




“That’s MasterCard. That’s Priceless.”

The MasterCard “priceless” campaign has been building the brand since its launch in 1997. The strategic benefit is MasterCard enables you to make purchases big and small so you can savor those priceless moments in life (which money cannot buy).


The naked idea is the juxtaposition of all those things you can purchase with MasterCard with the one priceless moment that money cannot buy. There have been well over 600 commercials for this campaign worldwide. Each and every one carries the same DNA. Each dramatizes the strategic benefit.


The longevity of the campaign has been kept fresh to this point through new and cleaver ad ideas (dramatization of the dramatizing naked idea for a given execution). One such ad idea that comes to mind is using MasterCard to purchase a teddy bear for baby. The priceless moment is seeing baby playing with the box the teddy bear came in. Another favorite is contrasting all the things you can purchase at the amusement park (Great America) with the priceless moment of seeing your dad scream like your little sister when riding the roller coaster.





“Strength for Living”

Procrit is the brand name for epoetin alfa. It works to increase red blood cells and is used to treat anemia brought on by cancer chemotherapy and chronic renal failure. Anemia adversely impacts the amount of oxygen transported to the cells by the blood. It can result in feeling tired or weak and may undermine the patient’s ability to engage in life’s multi-faceted activities. While Amgen produced the compound, Johnson & Johnson marketed it as Procrit.


The strategic promise for Procrit was it enables you to regain red blood cells (product benefit), which can mean more strength (customer benefit). The naked idea used to dramatize the strategic benefit was to portray people performing an activity that was important to them (for their satisfaction and for the sake of others whom they cared about) that, before treatment with Procrit, their anemic condition prevented them from doing.


While all the executions featured strong ad ideas one of the most dramatic was a grandfather on a mission to buy his grandson a “big boy” bed. Procrit enabled the grandfather to gain the needed strength to both keep his promise to his grandson and undertake an activity that would delight the grandfather. The naked idea dramatized the strategic benefit in a most compelling manner. It helped J&J make Procrit a blockbuster and was probably the most effective advertising in their multi-brand portfolio (including consumer products). It should be noted that the advertising was pulled after a few years due to FDA restrictions. (This is presumably because J&J may not have had Quality of Life data. The FDA does not allow extrapolations even if they are logical.)





“Ahhh, Sleep.”

While Procrit is ancient history, Belsomra is being promoted today. Belsomra is a pharmaceutical for people who suffer from insomnia. It works differently than other sleep aids. Basically it turns down the wake messages in the brain. The strategic promise is you will be able to get and stay asleep.


How is this communicated? The naked idea is to use an analogy of a dog, formed by the word “wake,” disturbing a cat, formed by the word sleep, to denote the battle going on in the brain that keeps you from getting and staying asleep. It’s a cuddly “sleep” cat being dogged by the “wake” dog keeping the patient from her sleep.


We’re not sure if this is an ad or campaign idea. In order for it to qualify as a campaign idea it would need to be pooled out in other executions. We’ve only seen the one execution. Might they be able to play the words personalized as cat and dog in other way? Possibly. Might they play the words personalized as other creatures or things? Possible. It remains to be seen. Regardless, it is a naked idea that appears to be working. Belsomra is expected to reach the number one brand status in the fastest time in the history of the category.






“Campaign for Real Beauty”

We’re all familiar with the Dove Brand from its beauty (not soap!) bar made with one-quarter moisturizing cream. Dove has many product lines in its portfolio of beauty care. Umbrella brand advertising reaffirms that you are beautiful and Dove will bring out and highlight your natural beauty.


The controversial campaign, which generated significant publicity, was built on a naked idea of unabashedly celebrating authentic beauty of real women with real curves, hair, etc. It broke from the standard practice of beauty care products that feature beautiful models and/or actresses who are air brushed, etc. (creating a false and unattainable standard) hawk their products.




The results? Well, the results were mixed depending upon the country. Sales and market share advanced in the US and Europe. In Europe sales at one time increased some 700%. It did not, however, succeed in Russia as executed in western markets. This is, in our opinion, not an indictment of the campaign idea but, instead, of the individual ad ideas. Interesting, some several years later the campaign continues to morph. And, if copying is flattery, Dressmann “Underwear for perfect men” (who are perfectly imperfect) is paying homage to the Dove naked campaign idea.





There you have it, an example from FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods), financial services, two from pharmaceuticals and one from beauty care. Regardless of the sector the naked idea (a major element of the campaign idea) helps dramatize and, in this way, make more compelling the strategic benefit. As the word campaign suggests, it consists of more than one in a row. Namely it provides the basis for numerous executions (ad ideas) that can help grow the brand for many years into the future.



1.  Ensure your brand’s advertising contains a naked idea – Check that you can clearly see and state the naked idea (i.e., the creative concept) that will inform all executions of your campaign. If not, ask your agency to state it. If they can’t then go back to the drawing board because if they cannot state it and you cannot see it then you don’t have one.

2.  Take a lot of shots on goal – When beginning new campaign development work insist that the agency share a plethora of ideas. The more shots on goal the better the opportunity for success. It’s not enough to have a lot of ideas. We need to ensure they represent different approaches. The aforementioned ideas represent different approaches to communicating the strategic benefit (e.g., Snickers – celebrity - fantasy; MasterCard – juxtaposition; Procrit – empathetic contrast of before and after; Belsomra – analogy; and Dove – real people).

3.  Dramatize, dramatize, dramatize – Use the campaign idea and each of its components (i.e., Key Copy Words, Naked Idea and Core Visualization) to dramatize, dramatize, dramatize the strategic promise (key thought) contained in the communication strategy separately and together so the target-customer may realize and take action on it.

4.  Assess the productivity of the naked idea – It’s not enough to have a naked idea. It must be one capable of compelling achievement of the communication “behavior” objective. This is where your judgment and marketing research is needed. It is important that you know the customer so well that you can predict how they will respond to the idea. Regardless, use marketing research to assist you in determining the productivity of the naked idea (as part of the overall campaign idea) with target-customers.

5.  Link key copy words to the naked idea and vice versa – They need to harmonize in order to deliver a single-minded message. (In a future issue we will talk about the core dramatization and the importance of aligning all three elements of the campaign idea.)

6.  Don’t go forward with advertising that does not include a naked idea and key copy words – Save your marketing support monies. Without a naked idea and key copy words (that work together as a single-minded message) your advertising will be less effective or not effective. In practice, it will probably suck.


Best wishes in making your advertising great again,



Richard Czerniawski & Mike Maloney

Richard Czerniawski

430 Abbotsford Road

Kenilworth, Illinois 60043

tel 847.256.8820 fax 847.256.8847

reply to Richard: or



Mike Maloney

1506 West 13th

Austin, Texas 78703

tel 512.236.0971 fax 512.236.0972

reply to Mike: or

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