5 Advertising Secrets from Top Ad Execs

5 Advertising Secrets from Top Ad Execs

Even if you don’t have $5 million to buy a 30-second ad on the Super Bowl or the estimated $377 million it takes to create that ad, you can get plenty of bang for your advertising buck by learning from those who splurged.              

A commercial break can either provide an excuse to get up and raid the refrigerator, or turn into a conversation piece that drives sales and keeps people talking about it for years.

Just ask Mike Sheldon, CEO of Deutsch, the ad agency that created the 2011 “Force Volkswagen” commercial, featuring a young boy using supernatural powers to start up his daddy’s VW Passat. More people viewed this ad than any other in Super Bowl history.

What made this ad fire on all cylinders?

“It’s all about great storytelling,” said Mike, one of 3 advertising and business executives that appeared on the Super Sunday edition of “Mind Your Business” aired on 77WABC radio. “It had a protagonist and an antagonist. It had conflict and resolution. It had parents, a dog and a little kid walking around his home who couldn’t make anything happen, who then gets into a car and transforms himself,” Mike said. (In case you missed the show, all episodes are available on iTunes – and can be easily accessed by going to WABCBizRadio.com where the podcasts are listed by individual guest.)

Coincidentally or not, the next year, Motor Trend named the Volkswagen Passat their “car of the year” as Volkswagen recorded its best US sales since 1973, when a 30-second Super Bowl ad cost a mere $88,000 compared to the $5-million that most advertisers forked over for this year’s big game.

Super Sunday has turned into “a creative arms race among corporate America that everyone gets to see in one day,” said Eric Springer, Chief Creative Officer of Innocean US, and one of the drivers behind the 2016 Super Bowl Hyundai ads. Debunking the myth that viewers tune out commercials, Springer told me: “Fans talk during the game, but a hush falls on them during a commercial. But that’s only if you take a feature they’re familiar with, and do it in a human, entertaining and relatable way.”

That concept was patently on display in a 30-second spot aired by Death Wish Coffee, a small coffee company based in Albany, New York, who won a free ad after winning a competition sponsored by Intuit QuickBooks.

The coffee company’s advertising agency built a 45-foot Viking ship just for the shoot that embodied the robustness of their coffee. A Norse warrior downed a cup of Death Wish Coffee, while calming stormy ocean waves in the process. “It wasn’t your traditional coffee commercial, but we’ve been overwhelmed with all the excitement,” said the company’s owner Mike Brown. “Since the commercial, we’re operating on level we didn’t think possible for five or ten years down the road.”

Even if you can’t afford to advertise on Super Sunday, or aren’t fortunate enough to win a free ad, you can get a jolt out of your advertising by following the same basic steps that my guests on 77WABC offered.

1) Remember Your Audience

Your commercial has to match the audience’s mood. If you’re advertising at a sporting event, where people are watching a game and simultaneously eating and drinking, be the life of the party yourself. Design an ad that gets people talking about you, and even continuing the conversation at the office water cooler the next day.

2) Be Disruptive

People have patterns of behavior. To get them to love, talk about, and buy your product, you need to disrupt that pattern by introducing your product from a new point of view.

3) Offer Extraordinary Value

Every product has lots of features, but zero in on one that’s going to resonate with the consumer. In Hyundai’s ad for its mid-priced Elantra, it focused on its auto-braking and pedestrian safety system – a feature normally associated with luxury brands.

4) Keep it Short

Don’t take 60 seconds, or words, to say what you can in 30. Sixty seconds can be an eternity unless you have something amazing to say and you say it in a very engaging way.

5) Keep a Sales Focus

You can be funny, charming, emotional or poignant, but remember, an advertisement is not all about entertainment. It’s also got to sell a product.

Bottom Line Action Step: Tell a great story, demonstrate extraordinary value, and align yourself with your audience.


Yitzchok Saftlas

Yitzchok Saftlas is the CEO of Bottom Line Marketing Group, a premier marketing agency recognized for its goal-oriented branding, sales, and recruitment and fundraising techniques. Serving corporate, non-profit and political clientele, Bottom Line's notable clients include: Beth Medrash Govoha, Dirshu and TeachNYS. He can be reached at ys@BottomLineMG.com

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