Use Provocation As a New Source of Ideas for Your Ad Campaign

May 12, 2010

Recall an ad that you last saw. It could be an ad about that new beauty salon in town or the latest hair treatment solution for men above 60.

Chances are, the ideas would all start to look the same.

The good news is, there is a powerful advertising technique that allows you to discover new sources of ideas and draw attention in a stimulating way to your next ad campaign. This is where provocation can make a whole world of difference between an impactful campaign and a mediocre one.

When brainstorming thought-provoking ideas with your team, think about all the negative things about your product. Do your consumers have doubts, frustration or anger that they want to release? What are some of the unthinkable things that people would say about your product? The goal of this exercise is to drum up emotions which would help engage your team into a heated debate using provocation as a basis for new ideas.

Here’s a checklist of questions that will give you and your team the right foundation to stir up some controversy and thus paving the way for new, innovative ideas:

  1. What would be shocking, surprising or humorous in association with your product or ad campaign?
  2. How could you make your ideas controversial (Could it be breaking a taboo? Or addressing a social issue)?
  3. What would a child think or feel about the ideas in your ad?
  4. What unthinkable things would you not do with your product?
  5. Who might be offended or horrified by your ideas? How would people react?
  6. How would your product cause damage, and to what extent?
  7. If you could break a rule in the words you use, what would you say (E.g. Shit! Darn! Son-of-a-Gun! etc.)?

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Goal Setting Tips for Creative Advertising #2: 5 Easy Ways to Formulate a Goal

April 8, 2010

One of the biggest mistakes that most creative teams make is formulating the wrong goals. This leads to time and effort being wasted on ideas that are boring, complicated or in the worst case, misunderstood. If you are going to create overwhelmingly positive results in your advertising campaign, you must formulate the right goal. Here are 5 ways to help you Your goal should always:

  1. Be a single-minded proposition that can be easily understood within a few seconds. Bear in mind that a single-minded proposition has no “ands” (How can we demonstrate in an email teaser that “Club ABC” is the trendiest nightspot in town?)
  2. Be in the form of a question
  3. Be short and concise
  4. Be simple enough for anyone to understand.
  5. Avoid the use of complicated words or incomprehensible jargon.

To learn more about goal-setting in creative advertising, click here.


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Goal Setting Tips for Creative Advertising #1: Goal Setting Examples

March 23, 2010

So you’ve meticulously done your research by carefully looking into the demographics, statistics, and successfully identified your target group or groups. You’ve even engaged your product extensively, establishing its unique selling points and figuring out the most desirable approach to market it.

So what comes next?

How do we tie it all together and end up with a killer ad campaign that rakes in millions of dollars?

The answer is clear: You need to formulate a goal, which means that all the ideas you’ve brainstormed up to this stage have to be condensed into a single-minded proposition that can be easily understood by your target audience within a few seconds. A clearly formulated goal prevents time-wasting discussions (may I mention meeting marathons that could potentially stretch up to 20 hours with minimal breaks in between?) and ensures that everyone on your team works towards the same marketing objective and communicates a clear message at the end of the day.

In my line of work, goals are asked in the form of a question that focuses on a single-minded proposition – there are no “ands”. Here are just some of the questions I often ask myself over different project scenarios that have inspired me to create the best results in my work.

Advertising a product or service through a specific medium

How could a viral online campaign demonstrate that my product is able to make a positive difference in the lives of people through self-improvement?

Advertising a product or service through visual campaigns

How could a graphic spotlight the benefits of my product as a life-changing tool that improves lives around the globe?

Advertising a product or service by highlighting a specific benefit

How could a series of email teasers show that the company I work for is the fastest growing technology firm in Asia?

Notice that in all of my goals, the proposition is always concise, single-minded, and formulated in a way that even ordinary people can understand.

In the next of my “goal-setting” series, I’ll show you how to formulate a goal that will help you create overwhelmingly positive results in your advertising campaign. Click here to read the article.


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Want to be Interesting? Tell Stories!

January 13, 2010

People love reading stories.

That’s why newspapers and tabloid magazines sell.

Likewise in copywriting and advertising, the best way to enthrall readers is to weave stories into your product or idea.

Look all around you. What are some of the everyday situations inspired by your own life could you develop around your product to show its benefits? What personal story could you share to make someone smile, laugh or cry? What story would show the strength of a product in an impactful or provocative way?

As you think over these questions, recall the TV commercials that touched your life in some way. What were the similar qualities of those ads that made you respond in a particular way?

One of my favorite TV ads: “Funeral” by legendary TV producer Yasmin Ahmad

In this touching ad, the central theme of  family togetherness is presented in dramatic style that many of us can relate to. The idea of  preserving the memory of a loved one is very much real and could happen or has happened in our own lives. As a result, we are moved by familiar emotions and could either smile or cry.

As you plan your next advertisement campaign, think about which of these styles of drama would be best for presenting your idea in a daily situation or story:

  • Action/Adventure
  • Broadway/Theater
  • Comedy
  • Costume
  • Chatshow
  • Documentary
  • Horror/Thriller/Mystery
  • Love Story
  • Sad Story
  • Soap Opera
  • News

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Creative Thinking Technique #3 – Visualize Your Emotions

January 12, 2010

An amazingly effective way to improve the clarity and control of your visualizations is to get into a relaxed of state of mind.

Once you are relaxed, make yourself comfortable physically and take a few deep breaths. If you are at home or in the office, find a nice, quiet spot where you can do this simple exercise.

When you are ready, visualize a relaxing scene such as strolling along the beach as the sun sets over the horizon. Make this image clearer and the colors more vibrant and vivid. Next imagine a funny or even bizarre scene with the characters who populate your beach. It could be a naughty child playing a prank on his parents who are sunbathing or a pet dog that has found a giant bone in the sand! Let your imagination go wild and let it paint all kinds of creative scenes in your mind. Make a mental note of your experience – what did you see, hear or feel?

Play around with this creative exercise until you feel refreshed, enlightened and entertained.


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Creative Thinking Technique #2: Ask the “What-If” Question

January 11, 2010

A great way to get your creative juices flowing is to ask “What-If” questions of your own and discover where your imagination takes you. Chunk down to the details of your visualizations and see what happens in different scenarios. For example, what if…

  • Your household carpet suddenly came to life and could take you anywhere you wanted? What does it feel like to travel everywhere for free? Would you take a loved one with you? And if you do, what does it feel like to soar in the air over a magnificent cityscape on a magic carpet ride…like Aladdin? What marvellous sights can you see? What incredible sounds can you hear?
  • You were given the ability to read the minds of people around you? What does feel like to wield such amazing supernatural power? What words would you say to the person whom you suspect to be backstabbing you in the office or to the confidence trickster who roams the streets below your home?
  • You stepped into your office one morning, and everybody became an animal befitting of each person’s personality? How would you react? What would you do if your boss, who suddenly became a snake, slittered his way to your feet?

Take a moment to try out this exercise.  And if you do it often, the faster and more likely you’ll be able to invent creative new ideas. Have fun!


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Creative Thinking Technique #1: Combine 2 Things Together to Create Something New

January 9, 2010

In my “Creative Thinking” series of articles, you’ll learn a set of fun exercises that can help improve your imagination and turn your visualizations into innovative ideas you can use in your ads or marketing campaigns.

A huge part of creative thinking is joining 2 previously separate ideas and creating something entirely new and unique.  Back in the 1950’s, who would have thought that somebody would combine the idea of using a paper cup with the popularity of eating noodles and came up with the world’s first instant cup noodle?  Today, cup noodles are sold all over the world and have even become a staple food in many households.

In the same way,  look for interesting everyday objects  and try combining their functions, features and forms so that something new results. The key thing is not be limited by your imagination! Try and see and you’ll be surprised by the creative, unique ideas that you come up with. As a start, try the following exercises for example:

What happens when you combine…

  • A watch and a phone?
  • A chair and a fruit, like a watermelon?
  • A clock and the wheel of a car?
  • A pen and a torch light?
  • A shoe and a pogo stick?

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