What Winning Advertisement Campaigns Have in Common

The next time you visit a shopping mall, take a good look around you.

Look at the advertising billboards that stalls display in their windows. Pick up a flyer and read over the copy.

What catches your eye? Is there something in the ads that moves you and gets you talking to your friends about the offer?

In a landscape dotted by so much ordinary advertising, it is rare to find an ad that truly stands out and yet gets results. It can also be said that how receptive people are towards your ad campaign really depends on their culture. In Asia, it was claimed that audiences, who are more down-to-earth, do not respond too well to clever advertising. This is a stark contrast to western audiences, who respond well to bolder, creative advertising.

The truth is, be it in Asia or the West, consumers recall and respond better to ads they like, more than those they dislike. Bearing that in mind, what are some of the things that successful advertisement campaigns have in common regardless of culture and geography?

Simplicity – A good, effective campaign ad should be simple and avoids ideas that are explicitly tacked on to the brand (How many times have we seen mindless ads that repeat the brand-name over and over again?) In fact, the best ads are inspired by everyday life and highlight the central idea and promise behind the product. A good example, in my personal opinion, would be this commercial about Oreo cookies.

Sensitivity – While getting maximum publicity is one of the goals of an ad, it should always be for a good reason. Ads that don’t work are those that make use of sarcasm, irony and negative sell. An unfortunate example of an ad that received plenty of negative publicity was one particular health supplement company’s branding of the suggestive slogan, “I swallow”.  

Relevance – The idea behind your ad should be relevant to your target audiences’ needs and desires. To achieve that, you must have an insightful understanding of your consumers’ relationship with your brand – did your consumers “grow up” to that brand? Is that brand well trusted over different generations? Is that brand synonymous with the hip and trendy?

Focus – Successful campaigns, including print ads, all communicate 1 main idea and avoid saying too much. You should not cram multiple ideas into your ad. Take Apple’s tagline, “Think Different”, for example. Based on that proposition, you can explore ideas based around Apple’s revolutionary product design, dedicated customer support, superior technology – but not all in one ad.


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