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torn ads on the street

Ads - What to Avoid

Peter O'Leary Dec 29 • 4 mins read

Our list of what not to do. There is much to learn from mistakes of the past (all done by others, of course).

  1. Don’t minimise your Brand
    Hammering home the Brand works everytime. Your audience likes to hear from you. Minimise brand presence and they may miss that it was you completely. Who gets the benefit then? The category leader. If you’re a clear and dominant Number 1 the rules are slightly different (but only slightly).

  2. Don’t be boring.
    Loose me forever. There is no excuse.

  3. Don’t be totally rational.
    This is the same as being boring. Some argue that being rational is a must for Trade or Industry ads. That makes sense if those ads aren’t talking to people - human behaviour is consistent across all walks of life and activity.

    Our message is that Emotion leads. This covers our 2 and 8 second objectives. Rational messaging follows and may well be needed to hold the audience beyond 20 seconds. Start with Rational and your challenge is much, much harder.

  4. Don’t forget who your audience is.
    This is the ‘you are not your customer’ lecture. It’s not about what the internal team thinks. Internal perceptions are typically not evidence-based, and more often they have developed over a long time from assumptions and confabulations. What does the market need?

    Briefly, on the touchy subject of market research focus groups, - we find that it’s far more effective to watch what people do than to listen to what they say they do. (Feel free to ask more about this). In the digital world, there are better ways to understand how real consumers behaviour.

    Understanding how that market is orientated is key. There are many examples of ads that have been written by the client, for the client and missed the market completely. (Not our clients, happy to share). It’s sad waste of time, money and an opportunity missed.

  5. Don’t trigger someone else’s brand.
    The worst thing that you can do in an ad is trigger recall of someone else’s product. Your money, they get the benefit. The most common trap is when smaller brands talk about the category rather than about themselves. The category leader reaps the reward.

    There are many straight-forward strategies that apply based on your market position. From when you should lead, when you should ride on someone else’s shirt-tails, to when you should zigzag.

  6. Don’t expect one size to fit all.
    Good creative is context dependent - a banner ad on a website can never convey the same detail as a printed brochure.

Developing creative messaging is a fascinating process. As the Madmen era showed, it requires passion, commitment and self-belief. And that’s just from the client - that wonderful person who has ‘sign off’, ultimate approval and, dare I say, accepts complete responsibility. This should be a team game - not a one pony show.

When the measurement is the commercial outcome, you need more than just a creative idea, an audience reach percentage or an awareness number. Set the strategy first, then develop the tactics.

Emotion trumps thinking. Everytime.

For more on the AMBA Creative process - click here.