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Creative Advertising: Feeling Sells

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While there are other names for them, you can usually put advertising into two categories: creative, which is used to create a demand; and directional which tells you where to get it. So many small businesses simply focus on the directional, like business directories and yellow pages. It’s easy. All that’s involved is including what you do and where people can find you. Great, but the only thing that makes people want to find you is a desire for your product or service. Sure, you can include a discount or coupon but that’s not going to keep them coming back. We’ll talk more about that later. Creative advertising is the hard part but it’s what can do a lot of the heavy lifting.

Nostalgia literally means, The pain from an old wound…

If you’ve ever watched Mad Men (one of my favorite shows) most of what Don Draper and his crew does is creative advertising. They often tap into the desires of the target market to make them feel a certain way in order to create a deep want for that product. The Kodak Carousel presentation in the season one finale is a great illustration. One of the best scenes of the entire series. Something as simple as a slide projector becomes a window into the past we want to remember.

“It takes us to a place we ache to go again… It takes us round and round and back home again. To a place where we know we are loved.”

There are a million layers of subtext here—with Don’s past and Harry Crane running out crying—but it touches a nerve in just about everyone. If it doesn’t, they should just go back to watching the Kardashians or something. Even if there were 10 other projectors available, all with similar functionality, that’s the one I yearn for. Logic may disagree but my consumer mind tells me that’s the only one that’s really going to take me back and give me that experience. Now, this is an extreme example. You could maybe call it manipulative. But it’s the core of what is done.

Don’t get caught up in tricks though. A common phrase heard in advertising is “sex sells.” In season two, Don has a great response to that;

“Says who?… YOU are the product. You. FEELING something. That’s what sells. Not them. Not sex.”

It may be a line but it’s true. Tricks and obvious ploys won’t get you far. Sexy stuff may sell, not because of the sex, because of the idea it puts in men’s heads that they have a chance or are desirable to that woman eating that hamburger and rolling around on that car. They feel it’s true. Don’t think it doesn’t work on women though. Have you seen some of the ads in ladies magazines? It’s just in reverse. “Use this product and you could look like this,” etc.

I’m not sure I like the idea of using a woman to sell hamburgers.

Now, I’m not suggesting anyone use underhanded tactics or manipulate. I’m not sure I like the idea of using a woman to sell hamburgers. It doesn’t make much sense when you think about it but the principle is there. Tap into the feelings and the base desires of what your target market wants and you’ve opened a door. But that’s only the beginning. The door doesn’t stay open for long. Unless that carousel ride is exciting and people get what they expect, they’re not going to pay for that ride again.

Take a look at the ads below. None of them are really asking you to buy something.

The Fiat Seduction Shutterstock Ad Mastercard Ad

If you’d like to discuss creative advertising options for your business…

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