This DISPATCHES’ article is an adaptation of an annual update on judging not just Super Bowl advertising but also any advertising professionally. It focuses on one critical element driving ad effectiveness—the Campaign Idea.
Super Bowl LVI will kick off on Sunday, 13 February, to decide the NFL’s 2021 season champion. It pits the Cincinnati Bengals against the Los Angeles Rams. Both teams have two weeks to prepare for the BIG game since winning their conference championships just one week ago.
Football fans worldwide will be preparing for the BIG game hosting family and friends with Super Bowl gatherings (as Covid practices permit). We’ll prepare “Pickin’s” (munchies), icing beer, and chili.
We’ll also, given our role as marketers, prepare to address questions from family, friends, clients, and colleagues as to what, in our opinion, is the best Super Bowl advertising. Perhaps, you might also want to consider preparing for this question. What criteria will you use to select the “best?”
Advertisers have committed roughly $7.0-million per 30-second TV spot—up 27% from $5.5-million for Super Bowl LV—and begun garnering publicity for their ads. Pundits are picking winners, not just for the contest’s outcome but for the ads! Perhaps, someday Las Vegas will get into the ad game and handicap the ads too.
Unfortunately, many of the discussions with consumers and colleagues, and reports by the media, will focus around “entertainment” value, as determined by criteria such as “likeability” ratings.
However, this is not the professional way to measure nor judge the worth of Super Bowl LVI advertising—or, for that matter, any advertising. It’s not relevant and, therefore, not professional. What counts and should be measured is whether it motivates prospective customer behavior to generate incremental sales.
As advertising legend David Ogilvy stated, “It’s not creative unless it sells.”
At the cost of approximately $233,333.333 per second for airtime, the advertiser’s marketing communication needs to be exceptional in boosting sales and generating a positive ROI (return-on-investment).
Instead of focusing on the entertainment value, the appropriate measure of worth is “effectiveness.” We determine effectiveness by whether it rings the cash register to generate incremental sales and build the business.
We judge and determine whether an ad communication will be effective (even before the results are in) by thoughtfully assessing the: 1) intended Communication Strategy (including the Communication Behavior Objective); 2) Campaign Idea; and, finally, 3) Execution.
Again, this article will focus on the “Campaign Idea” as it needs to be present and BIG to justify the cost of an ad in being part of the BIG “adstravaganza.”
The Campaign Idea
The Campaign Idea transforms the Communication Strategy into compelling customer language that moves the customer to action. It consists of three parts. These are 1) the Key Copy Words; 2) coupled with a core dramatization of the benefit; within the context of the 3) Naked Idea (i.e., creative concept that articulates how the benefit is communicated in each execution and across all media vehicles).
The first question we professionals need to address is whether there is a Campaign Idea driving the ad. We seek to identify and articulate the Naked Idea (i.e., creative concept), which should drive each execution, in no more than a sentence or two. It is not a restatement of the strategic benefit but “how” the advertiser communicates it.
The Key Copy Words also need to dramatize the benefit in customer (not strategic!) language. The Key Copy Words serve as a post-it note that helps target customers remember the brand and its benefit. Importantly, they must strike a responsive chord with the target customer in such a way as to compel them to action.
The final part is the core dramatization, which can be visual or audio in execution. It dramatizes the benefit or leads customers to discover it. By the way, it’s more, much more, than a smiling face of a contented customer or a close-up of the product.
The second question to address is whether the three parts of the Campaign Idea work together to “dramatize” a single-minded message that effectively communicates the “key thought” (your differentiated benefit or value proposition) stated in the brand’s Communication Strategy. In other words, it needs to be both single-minded and emotive.
Finally, we must use our judgment to determine whether the Campaign Idea will compel targeted customers to switch to the advertised brand, increase usage frequency—whatever the specific behavior that drives incremental sales articulated in the Communication Behavior Objective.
While a complete analysis would include a thoughtful assessment of the strategy and execution, please note that an ad is unlikely to be effective if it doesn’t have a Campaign Idea.
Does this mean that the presence of a Campaign Idea spells success? No. However, it improves the likelihood of success.
Prepare yourself to professionally address the question, “what is the best Super Bowl ad?” Start looking for a Campaign Idea.
Now, may the best team—and most effective ad—win! And, now, may you burnish your professional prowess and reputation.
“NINETY-NINE PERCENT OF ADVERTISING DOESN’T SELL MUCH OF ANYTHING.” David Ogilvy
Is your advertising among the ninety-nine percent? Read Chapter 9, Brand Communications that Suck, in AVOIDING CRITICAL MARKETING ERRORS: How to Go from Dumb to Smart Marketing. It identifies those critical errors and, importantly, points out the way to develop advertising in the Top 1%. Learn more here: http://bdn-intl.com/avoiding-critical-marketing-errors
Peace and best wishes,
Richard Czerniawski and Mike Maloney