What makes a “good” television ad? What makes a “bad” television ad?
Does “good” or “bad” have anything to do with the effectiveness of an ad?
Here are some definitions for the purpose of this article:
bad ad: There is something antisocial in the ad.
good ad: The ad clearly describes the product or service and is entertaining, direct, and pleasing to watch.
Some Good Ads
Bayer® is currently running an ad for a commodity or generic product. The product is aspirin. But the ad does not call it aspirin, it is Bayer®.
Although aspirin is aspirin to most of us, the ad wants you to know that you can trust only Bayer®.
The pitch lady is an expert at her job.
She has a wonderful, trustful voice full of warmth and pathos. (I just love her!) Bayer® has helped three people in her family. Her mother uses it for arthritis pain, her brother for his bumps in the night, and it SAVED HER FATHER FROM DEATH!
Pleasant scenes of family togetherness say, “ALL CAN BE WELL WITH YOUR FAMILY TOO!”
But, of course, you should be using Bayer®.
I know of no other put-eggs-in-carton distributor that bothers to advertise.
I don’t know what this means. They certainly don’t taste as good to me as the ones from my grandkid’s chicken coop. But they are eggs and certainly edible. The taste test is not specified. It could have been in the company boardroom for all I know.
But who cares? They taste best by test!
Also these eggs probably have the same health benefits as other eggs but the commercial implies that the ingredients in their eggs are somehow gooder.
But all of the above is strictly tinsel.
The ad versions show grandma, dad, mother, and children eating eggs together in the kitchen. Why, it’s just like the good old days when families ate together and enjoyed each other’s company.
What could be better than that; all made possible by not any eggs, but Egg
I know the CEO of Sam Adams® so I keep track of what he is up to. In his ads he tells us that every one in his company has only one aim: Make Good Beer!
He shows that bad beer or stale beer is only good for dunking. He climbs up on that dunk seat and folks throw balls at the target until he is dunked!
What other CEO would do that?
He also says that good hops make good beer. Off he goes to Belgium and sticks his whole face into the hops. At the end of one of his ads you know that he is making good beer and that he (and his crew) intends to keep eyes focused on the beer to make sure it stays good.
I met this gentleman when he was speaking at an entrepreneurial meeting in Boston. While the Dukakis people were suffering from defeat (right there in our hotel) he was being recognized for the company startup.
He is a humble, honest fellow so he told us that he asked his grandfather for money to buy a computer.
His grandfather said, “Why do you need a computer?”
He answered, “To keep track of my customers. ”
His grandfather asked, “How many customers do you have?”
He said, “Six. ” (That’s if I remember the story correctly. )
His grandfather told him to go to the dime store and by a pocket notebook!
Now look at his company!
Good Ad Summary
I think the key to a good ad is to keep things as simple as possible. You often have only time enough to spotlight the NAME of the product or service and to emphasis the one key BENEFIT. (Drug companies must buy extra time to tell how the same drug can knock you on your petunia. )
Cal Worthington’s ads were always extremely entertaining. He often used animals to catch the eye. Sticking your head into a lion’s mouth will draw attention (especially if the lion has not had lunch. ) Cal’s point was always that he would STAND ON HIS HEAD to give you a good deal. (See my article on Cal Worthington. )
Animals, children, cartoon characters, etc. , can make ho hum ad more exciting and fun.
All of my advertising is of the print variety so I don’t have the luxury of much more than a cartoon character.
There are a lot of ads that bother me. The worst are those that are focused so that only a moron would want to buy the product. You don’t want to be in that category so you don’t buy.
I think there are some negatives that may not be negatives to the professionals that write the television ads but they are negative to me. Here is my list:
Negative Personality Spokesperson
Let’s say an actor is chosen as the spokesperson that is popular because of a very negative or abrasive role he or she plays in a television show.
Can anyone separate the actor from the abrasive character he or she plays?
Would you trust that person?
I don’t! Not with my money!
Now, you’ve guessed whom I’m talking about.
I suspect that these ads are successful. Why else would they keep the same spokesperson for so long?
Somebody Does Something Disgusting
One ad I watched this week showed a cook not washing his hands when coming out of a stall in the men’s room. My wife and I looked at each other, said, “UGH!” and I clicked, clicked, clicked. (My wife does not like me to click, click, click but she made an exception in this case. )
What was the rest of the ad about? Who knows? We weren’t there to watch it.
Someone Does Something Stupid
Some brewers love to show some dodo doing something so stupid that nobody else would think of doing it. It gets attention, their intended audience laughs, mission accomplished.
What do these ads do for me? It depends on its originality. If it is funny, I’ll laugh and laugh and laugh. If it’s not, I’ll say, “That was stupid!”
Maybe that’s the test.
Named but Not Identified Product
The drug companies love these ads. Ask your doctor about Zentrap.
They never tell you what Zentrap is!
Actually, Zentrap doesn’t exist to my knowledge. I made it up. However, if you know this drug and it does trap Zen, e-mail me immediately.
I always say to this type of commercial, “Who cares? It can cause diarrhea, backache, dizziness, and sclerosis of the liver. ”
I like it when the CEO of Ford Motor Company comes out and says that the company is doing everything possible to improve the quality of Ford’s vehicles. Lee Iacocca never trusted anyone else to speak for Chrysler. I like CEOs to take me around their operations and say, “Look here! That’s good!”
Remember the horses playing football? I remember that silly scene and it’s planted in my brain forever. (That means until my brain cells say, “We’re out of oxygen! Goodbye, Taylor Jones, the hack writer!)
Do you remember the product?
Sure you do. Glub! Glub! (Well, I don’t drink. I suspect that it is probably against the law here in this part of Idaho. Now I worked for a subsidiary of a brewery and a subsidiary of a distiller, so I’m not completely against you having a drop or two. Moderation is good! Keep that pension coming!)
Some ads are cute but short lived. People tire early of repetition. That’s why talking frogs, toads, dogs, cats and kangaroos are fun at first but then not as fun. Sometimes you have to switch to a spicy old lady that says, “Where’s the beef!”
Copyright©John T. Jones, Ph. D. 2005
John T. Jones, Ph. D. (email@example.com)is a retired R&D engineer and VP of a Fortune 500 company. He is author of detective & western novels, nonfiction (business, scientific, engineering), poetry, etc. Former editor of international trade magazine. Jones is Executive Representative of International Wealth Success.
More info: http://www.tjbooks.com
Business web site: http://www.bookfindhelp.com (IWS wealth-success books and kits and business newsletters / TopFlight flagpoles)