Don’t Think, Feel. Making advertising memorable.

Line of Duty, Love Island, Game of Thrones – memorable TV programmes which all create those eagerly anticipated discussions at work the next day. But how often does that happen with advertising? Do you ever say “I saw this great ad last night. You must see it”? Probably not.

Of course, over the years some ads have left an indelible mark such as Budweiser’s ‘Wassup’,  the ‘You know when you’ve been Tango’d’ slap campaign or Levi’s ‘Laundrette’, (RIP Nick Kamen) but on the whole most ads are completely forgettable.

Given TV viewers in the UK see on average 41 TV commercials a day and in excess of 5,000 ad messages across print, the internet and out-of-home media, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd. It’s one of the reasons advertisers use a variety of tactics to be remembered.

We take a look at some of those tactics and why the real answer to producing memorable advertising is creating emotion.

Get a brand icon, or maybe not!

So, given we are bombarded with so much advertising, is there any point jumping on that particular band wagon? Well, yes!

Advertising has three main aims – to inform, to persuade and to remind. If your brand decides not to advertise then how will people know you exist and why would they use your product/service rather than your competitors?

But even if you do advertise, how do you ensure your product is remembered? We’ve all seen ads on TV and promptly forgotten the brand they are advertising – or even struggled to understand it, so whether you’re advertising on TV, the Tube or on social media, you have to ensure your brand stands out.

It’s one of the reasons why some brands have a brand icon to make them more memorable – just look at Compare the Market, Go Compare, Churchill and 02. They all use brand icons to bring their, quite frankly, dry products and services to life; however, when their advertising starts to focus on the voice behind the mascot, rather than the mascot itself, is it time to call it a day? And while you could argue being irritating is being memorable, it’s counter-productive if people then refuse to buy your products or services.

And then there are those who use audio logos or recognisable music tracks to promote their products. Is there a day that goes by when you don’t hear Queen on TV?!  And it does make you wonder who exactly gets the most out of it – the brand or the band?

Having worked on numerous advertising campaigns over the years, we think the answer is a lot more simple than gimmicky characters or incorporating familiar music. Simply make people feel, rather than think.

Create an emotional response

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

This quote attributed to Maya Angelou, the American poet, memoirist and civil rights activist perfectly highlights that just showing people a product or service isn’t enough. Advertising needs to create emotional resonance to be really successful.

According to the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology human emotion is based on four basic emotions – happy, sad, afraid/surprised and angry/disgusted, and it’s these emotions that some of the most memorable ads of our times tap into.

Who can forget the horrendous ‘In the Summertime drink drive advert, Amazon’s ‘The show must go on’, (Queen again!) which perfectly captured how we were all feeling during lockdown or these ads from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America? All of them create an emotional response not only to grab our immediate attention but also to increase the overall impact of what they are trying to convey.

It’s hardly surprising then that Budweiser remade their ‘Wassup ad’ to make it more relevant to life in lockdown. If it made us laugh the first time round, why not at a time when we really need something to smile about?

Don’t shock just for the sake of it

But creating an emotional response is a delicate balancing act, especially if you are trying to shock your audience into feeling angry or disgusted. Ultimately, you still want people to buy your products or services, so if you go too far, you could risk alienating your key target audience.

Shockvertising is a style pioneered by Benetton back in the 1990s, when they did a series of controversial advertising campaigns which included everything from an image of a dying AIDS activist to a priest and nun kissing. Often including no reference to their products, these ads were divisive at the time, but have since attained cult status. But it does raise the question, should you shock just for the sake of it?

We don’t think so. What has an image of a new-born baby still attached to its umbilical cord got to do with selling jumpers? Is using an image of a dying man simply commoditising suffering? AIDS activists thought so and launched a global campaign to boycott the company.

Having worked on various ad campaigns over the years, we strongly believe if you are going to shock then it has to have a point and has to be relevant to be truly successful.

Our recent ‘Act Against Lungworm’ campaign wasn’t about shocking people for the sake of it, but about raising awareness of the devastating consequences of lungworm in dogs – a growing issue in the UK.  Every element was carefully crafted to show the emotional distress of the dog owner who has lost their pet to this deadly parasite which can be transmitted by slugs and snails – often easily (and accidentally) ingested by dogs. The outcome can be sudden and shocking for all. Yes, some people found the campaign hard to stomach and found looking at it difficult, but it was relevant with a clear point and most of all, it stimulated an emotional response in them. And if just one dog owner decided to take action as a result, then it’s been worth it.

Want advertisers to remember you? Then get in touch

Wherever or whatever you’re planning to advertise, you’ll want to create an impact, and for that you’ll need a creative agency who know exactly what they are doing. Get in touch to find out how we can help your brand.