Sr. Director, Marketing and Operations
With the abundance of ads circulating every form of media – all seeking to capture consumers’ attention, hearts, and minds – what is the purpose of the ad that doesn’t directly promote a product? Some go for laughs, others for emotional impact, and some are just plain confusing. But if they don’t feature a product, why do companies spend the big bucks to make them?
Many ads that attempt to entertain or inspire viewers, but don’t strongly promote their product, miss an opportunity. While trying to sell a product without pushing it, advertisers often invite consumers into an elite or intriguing world, or simply try to connect emotionally to the consumer. However, without an obvious connection to a brand or product, some just don’t meet consumer expectations. These types of commercials sometimes build on the standing brand image, but they don’t necessarily build brand equity that elicits action or emotional connections to the brand. They often fail to spark new interest or leave a lasting impression because of the lack of explicit connection to a product. The advertising effectiveness of these commercials leaves much to be desired.
For advertisements that accomplish this feat – creating an appealing ad that doesn’t push a product or confuse the consumer – there are benefits. For example, a few years ago, Sanderson Farms created this campaign during the holiday seasons that acted as a “greeting” to consumers.
Through our copy testing research, MDRG learned that this approach demonstrated the character of the company: it values its employees and customers. While consumers did not necessarily care about a company like Sanderson Farms sharing their personal values, the ad conveys an emphasis on family creating an emotional connection. Additionally, the combination of happy, friendly staff in a clean work environment and a family sitting down to a wholesome meal shows consumers that Sanderson Farms cares about producing a great product – without having to hit them over the head with it.
The brand and company are still very much present throughout the ad, making them relatable and reducing the possibility of consumer confusion. The promotion of their actual product – the chicken – is minimal: blink and you miss it. It is notable to consumers that valuable time and money were spent to extend a gesture like this rather than to solely promote their product. In this way, it is not just the message of the ad but its very existence that communicates an important brand attribute to consumers.
When done correctly, these kinds of ads can work. They have value, and are worth considering, because they build a brand identity and can cause consumers to view a company in a new light, leaving a lasting impression. They create warm connections and associations for consumers that can foster a sense of goodwill and, hopefully, create brand loyalty and equity.
What do the following ads accomplish? Do they fall in line with Sanderson Farm’s greeting ad, or do they miss the boat and leave consumers with questions and confusion? Are they solely brand advancement or do they do something more?
This P&G ad aired during the Olympics:
The message of the ad is strong: to realize all of the things your mom has done and sacrificed for you, to thank her for those things, and to realize you didn’t get where you are alone because “it takes someone strong to make someone strong.” Like the Sanderson Farms ad, it reaches out to consumers with a gesture without focusing any time or attention on its products. But what does this message have to do with laundry detergent, diapers, or razors? What does it have to do with the P&G brand? Did it show advertising effectiveness?
This Dior commercial takes an approach familiar from many perfume ads:
This is a great example of an ad that attempts to bring consumers into the brand’s world. The implication to male viewers, of course, is that if you wear this fragrance you can be confident, tough, and attractive. It will empower you to do whatever, whenever with no consequences. But how does creating this image ultimately sell perfume? Is this world believable? Do consumers buy into this world without knowing the scent?
Try this Levi’s commercial:
This ad provides consumers with an attractive persona. People who wear Levi’s are youthful pioneers. They are looking for adventure, for something new. While those featured in the commercial are wearing jeans, there is no real connection to the product until the logo is shown at the end. Do consumers realize this is a Levi’s ad while they are watching it? Is this persona believable? How does all of this help build a desire to buy Levi’s jeans?
Finally, an ad for Ram Trucks aired during a Super Bowl:
By associating the brand with the ethos of the “farmer” archetype, the ad seeks to communicate that Ram trucks are made for hard work and are durable. They are there for you to get the job done. They are the truck for those that work hard, have values, care about their families. But is the advertising effectiveness evident to making the connection by only briefly featuring images of the trucks and leaving the brand’s logo out of the picture until the very end?