Savvy content marketers look to the latest trends and watch big brands for inspiration. I’ve spent my whole career in marketing, so I love this stuff. I’m always observing advertising, whether it’s TV, billboards, signage, online or print. It can be as simple as an email blast that hits my inbox. A lot of what we see is pretty awful, but there also are campaigns that just knock my socks off. And a special big round of applause for big brands that are using their platforms to make political statements. This has never been more important, and I’m delighted to see big corporations supporting causes, including women’s rights. A prediction: Look for the 2018 Super Bowl ads to raise the bar on ads with big heart and a bigger conscience.
Southwest is doing some really fun ads right now
I love the one where the coach is getting his team fired up to win. He’s told them that they’re going all the way, they’re not going home tonight. The next scene: he’s sitting sheepishly in coach, surrounded by his team. But who doesn’t like Southwest, the blue-collar airline?
Luxury brands that come with a suggestion that you really can’t afford them
Wealth and exclusivity have their appeal. Remember that gorgeous ad with Placido Domingo promoting Rolex watches? What about those beautiful Louis Vuitton luggage ads? They’re always subtle, full-page ads in high-end publications. Pictures of beautiful, well-dressed people going somewhere interesting that you can’t afford. These are aspire ads.
Craft beer is stealing our hearts and palettes
We may love our craft beer, but Budweiser wants us to believe that they’re still America’s beer. They hit all the buttons with their advertising—they’re still working it with those magnificent Clydesdales and the puppy ads during the SuperBowl. They’re selling pride in being American. Kudos to Bud—they’ve stepped up in the last year and gotten political. Through their advertising, they’ve supported immigration and gay rights.
Procter and Gamble may have the world’s biggest advertising budget
But they’re not just promoting toilet paper. They’re doing some good things with that big budget. I love the video ad of black parents talking about racism to their kids. “You’re not a pretty black girl, you’re beautiful. Period.” For International Women’s Day on March 8, P&G released its latest gender equality initiative along with the #WeSeeEqual ad. This ad is a series of scenes showing men, women and children in everyday situations, interspersed with text, such as “Hugs don’t care who give them,” and “Equations don’t care who solve them.” It finishes with a woman telling a younger co-worker “Do it,” with the line “Equal pay doesn’t care who demands it.”
The Giants wrapped up the 2017 season as the worst team in baseball
Yet our local team consistently hit a homerun with its advertising. Year after year, they make us love going to the ballpark because it’s such great fun. It’s the Bay Area’s team and it transcends every demographic; most importantly, the Giants make us want to be part of this. Crappy year or not, this is a terrific organization, and I’m betting that we’re going to see another stellar year of advertising and the Giants are going to put together a competitive team in 2018.
The most interesting man in the world got a lot less interesting. Stay thirsty, my friend . . .
For years, Dos Equis ads featured an incredibly sexy, silver-haired man who accomplishes extraordinary feats. “His passport requires no photograph; when he drives a car off the lot, its price increases in value.” Dos Equis apparently decided that the most interesting man was too old and replaced him with one who is boring and uninteresting. Bad idea.
Insurance ads are a total disconnect
These sly insurance ads start out with a clever premise, but there’s no relationship between that clever idea and the insurance. A total disconnect. Think about Aaron Rodgers and that adorable dog that catches the football. What’s the relationship between Aaron, the dog and State Farm? Even the Clay Matthews cameo at the end makes no sense. There’s another big consideration. If you’re insuring with State Farm, you’re paying for these expensive campaigns. Maybe it’s time to switch to a company that’s not dropping your hard-earned dollars on advertising.
Good advertising reaches us on an emotional level
As small business owners, we don’t have big advertising budgets, but we can become more aware of what big brands and other small businesses are doing and learn from their efforts.
When we see advertising that’s really effective, it’s because it’s reaching us on an emotional level. If that ad’s doing its job, it’s appealing to our senses—making us laugh, feel nostalgic or proud; it engages us. It can capitalize on our thirsts, hungers, wants and needs. Good advertising tells a story that stays with us. Ultimately it makes us want what’s being promoted–and that’s why big brands pour millions of dollars into their campaigns. We remember those ads and we’re inclined to try those brands when we get ready to buy.