The Secret To An Effective Advertising Campaign

What makes a good advertisement campaign?

Is it the catchy tagline, the sales pitch or is it how well you have structured your communication message?

Well, all of these are crucial in making an advertisement campaign a ‘good one’. But not all good ad campaigns are effective.

So what makes an advertisement campaign effective? What makes it a memorable advertising campaign that engages the masses, create an impact and also boost sales positively?

To answer this question, let’s look back at some of the best ad campaigns of all time:

Dove ‘Real Beauty’ Campaign

In the year 2004, a research by Unilever revealed that only 4% of the women considered themselves to be attractive. But, what caused this mass- insecurity among women? The root cause for this was found to be digitally distorting photos to create the illusion of perfection. Basically, Dove called out the Photoshopped lie that most brands try to sell their customers.

While most ad campaigns feed on the insecurities of people, claiming to guarantee the ‘perfect look’ by using their products, Dove took the polar opposite approach by opting for a more ‘natural, everyday look’ in their advertisements, rather than highly glamorizing the commercial, thus sparking a string of discussions about how unrealistic beauty standards affected women adversely, among a number of other feminist debates.

Why Did It Appeal To The Audience?

The ‘Real Beauty’ campaign resonated with a large number of people, and instilled a sense of self-esteem in them with the assurance that ‘everyone is beautiful’. The campaign was all about building confidence in men and women, alike. Women who resonated with this campaign were also keener on buying products by Dove.

The campaign wasn’t about ‘I’m really glad they put this in the shampoo.’ It was about ‘I really appreciate what the brand is doing in the world. I want to put my dollars against what they’re doing.’ ˗ Nancy Vonk, Producer at Ogilvy & Mather, Toronto (for the ‘Real Beauty’ campaign).

Coca-Cola ‘Share A Coke’ Campaign

What do big companies do to appeal to an already large audience?

They appeal to the individuals.

That is what Coca-Cola did in the year 2011, with the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign. The ‘Share a Coke’ advertisement campaign started in Australia, after Coca-Cola personalized Coke bottles and cans with 150 of the most popular names in the country, with the U.S quickly following their footsteps. Coca-Cola also gave people the option to personalize bottles on their website with names and logos.

The very idea behind this was to encourage the customers to ‘Share a Coke’ with the person whose name was on the bottle, if it did not have their own name.  This sense of familiarity was new and exciting to the customers.

Why Did It Appeal To The Audience?

Coke fans are regular buyers of the product. So Coca-Cola implemented full individual ownership for their bottles. Not only did the individuality in personalized bottles show customers that the company cares, it also encouraged them to ‘break the ice’ and share a Coke to make friends. This made the product even more lovable and the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, one of the most memorable ad campaigns of all time.

Nike’s Just Do It

Fitness has always been a craze among people. One such fitness-frenzy in the 1980s led to Nike coming up with the ‘Just Do It’ advertising campaign, to compete with its counterpart, Reebok. Reebok was more successful than Nike at the time, whereas Nike exclusively catered to marathoners. This was their chance to expand by reaching out to the common folk as well.

Short and sweet, the ‘Just Do It’ campaign resonated with millions of people. The message was simple, ‘Just Do It’̶ no matter how hard it is. The campaign for Nike’s shoes blew up and the sales went from just $800 million in the year 1988, to a whopping $9.2 billion in the year 1998.

Why Did It Appeal To The Audience?

The campaign put the journey to physical fitness in just three words, and urged people to push themselves beyond their own limits. The very fact that the advertisement pushed people to be more determined, encouraged them to relate to the message ‘Just Do It’ being sent across by Nike.

This personal level of encouragement is what made the ‘Just Do It’ advertisement campaign a huge success, thus also making the product a household name.

Always #LikeAGirl

Two sets of people were asked to perform a set of tasks ‘like a girl’. The campaign focused on the fact that girls’ self esteem is lowered around puberty and they are still as capable as just about anyone else, driving home the fact that the phrase ‘like a girl’ was not to be used as an insult.

The #LikeAGirl campaign started out as just a commercial by Always at the 2015 Super Bowl, but blew up to be a social message that hundreds of millions of people worldwide could relate to. The campaign was not a success merely because it went viral, but because it also inspired the masses about something important- self esteem.

Why Did It Appeal To The Audience?

The main reason why the #LikeAGirl campaign became a success was because it reflected the problems faced by women in our time and culture. Apart from just addressing the issue, Always also took a stand for something that a huge fraction of the masses could resonate with.

Acknowledgment of the challenges faced by their customers and bringing it to everyone’s attention made the #LikeAGirl campaign a world-wide success and a popular hashtag used on social media widely, even today.

Volkswagen’s ‘Think Small’ Campaign

In a time when everyone was obsessed with pompous, big German cars that showed off status in an exaggerated manner, smaller German cars were left largely unnoticed by people. To tackle this, Volkswagen and the advertising group at Doyle Dane & Bernbach came up with the legendary idea to incorporate the minimal features of the car into an equally minimalist advertisement.

Though a print ad, the ‘Think Small’ advertising campaign went on to be classified as one of the best advertisements of all time. Why? Because, the campaign never tried to sell a lie to the masses. The ‘Think Small’ campaign was brutally honest, to the point and mocked people’s obsessions with big cars that did not live up to the standards.

Why Did It Appeal To The Audience?

Transparency and minimalism. It’s as simple as that!

With the ‘Think Small’ advertisement campaign, Volkswagen did what we can only describe as ‘cut to the chase’, and sold their small, but efficient cars to the masses, while also garnering a huge amount of praise for their advertisement campaign.

What Makes An Effective Advertising Campaign?

Ad campaigns are hard to come up with, especially if you are a household name. The same product can be advertised in a hundred different ways, and when it comes down to just one, what is that extra element in your advertisement that is going to be the selling factor?

What did these ad campaigns have in common? What made them so memorable? What was it about these advertisements that impacted the growth of the brand?

The answer to these questions has nothing to do with how the advertisement has been structured. While the structure is something that influences the impact of your advertisement campaign, there are other factors that give your campaign the push it needs.

  • Remind your customers that you care. Address issues that are rampant, but often overlooked. Make sure that you create a personal connect with your audience while doing so.
  • Add a dash of humour to the advertisement, if possible. People pay more attention to advertisements that either strike a chord with them, or the ones that can make them laugh.
  • Add a catchy phrase or tune to your advertisement. If you can’t get it out of your head, chances are that others can’t, either.
  • Keep it simple; don’t overdo it. Much like the ‘Just Do It’ and ‘Think Small’ campaigns, minimalism is very important when you’re trying to establish a connection with the audience. There is only so much you can put into the limited time and space allotted for the advertisement, so it is always better to get to the point.
  • Be honest with your customers. Don’t try to sell your product as something it is not. Transparency and honesty are very important when you sell your product. It also helps people trust you.
  • Be creative in a way that your campaign is memorable to your customers, even if the concept is simple. If the subject is boring, then use your creativity to get the message across in a lighter manner.
  • Don’t push your products on to your customers. Instead, make them look at the pros and cons of your product in a manner that they would find more relatable.
  • If your advertisement has gained momentum among your customers, keep them engaged with a sequel to your already famous campaign. That being said, don’t be repetitive with the same concept.
  • Emotional and nostalgic marketing are powerful tactics that influence your buyers. If there is a bigger, more universal story behind your campaign, make sure it’s articulated well.

So, there you go.

Apart from knowing just how to structure your advertisements, you now also know the X-factor that it needs to make your campaign a success. Advertisements are predominantly about establishing a connection with your customers and capturing their attention. They are about creating an image for your brand that is both honest and simple. While the kind of ad campaigns today may have changed after all these years, the principles of a good campaign still remain the same.

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