Thursday, April 9, 2015

What makes a good ad?

Ryan Dullea, MBA'05, Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble

Ryan Dullea, MBA’05, has spent a decade managing brands at Procter & Gamble, including Cascade, Febreeze, Prilosec-OTC, and Pepto Bismol. He returned to campus last week to help a small group of Kelley undergraduates understand how to think strategically about advertising.

His bottom line: A good ad is one that both is creatively rewarding and builds the business. 

“If an ad isn’t creatively rewarding, it’s not going to stand out, it’s not going to be memorable, and it’s not going to achieve business objectives,” he told a class of M255 students. 

Advertising is the intersection of art and science. A good ad has soul—it reflects the essence of the brand and the benefit that’s being promised. Think of it like the human body: A good ad has a hand that reaches out and connects with consumers, a face that’s easily recognizable, a fingerprint that separates the brand from competition, and feet to carry it across mediums.

Soul: Is the ad on brand?

In advertising, Dullea says, everything begins with a robust understanding of your consumer. When you know what your brand stands for in the hearts and minds of your consumers, you're able to think about the benefit you can provide them with your product. A good ad communicates the benefit clearly.

Hand: Does it connect with consumers?

A good ad has a message that evokes a positive response to your brand in the heads and hearts of your prime prospect. In 2009, Dawn began airing spots that showed a baby duck, penguin and seal being washed in sudsy tubs. There is no voiceover, just the song “Wash Away” by Joe Purdy, and text stating that Dawn helped save thousands of animals caught in oil spills. The company also promised to donate $1 to wildlife groups each time a consumer bought a bottle of Dawn and visited a Web site. That campaign still stands today, taking the shape of a small documentary series (shown below), packaging, and more.

Face: Is your brand easily recognizable?

Apple, BMW, Nike: Their colors, shapes, and slogans are burned in our memories. Did you know that “Just Do It” has only ever been written, never spoken? That’s how Nike has been able to use the slogan for more than 30 years without retiring it. A good ad, over periods of time, makes your brand a part of your consumer’s vocabulary and habitual daily routine.

Fingerprint: Is the ad unique?

Let’s think about antacid commercials. What comes to mind? An office doing what is essentially the Macarena, inspired by five common stomach problems? Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea?

More than a decade later, many focus groups still recall when the Pepto Bismol dance was on the air, Dullea says. It's memorable and disruptive, in a market where other brands aren't having nearly as much fun.

Feet: Simple and transferable

Mobile is a part of the world we live in, and it will always be that way. People are spending more time on their phones and iPads than they’re watching TV. The point, Dullea says: A good ad grabs consumers with a simple message that’s consistent across all channels, not just the television. 

Pampers’ Discover the World campaign invited parents of newborns and babies in diapers to see the world through a child’s eyes. The idea communicated well on TV, but also in print and even an on-the-road playhouse with real-life obstacle courses designed to put adults at a child’s level. 

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