December 11, 2009

How to build great (digital) campaigns

under-constructionChapter 5 in David Ogilvy’s book, Confessions of an Advertising Man (the inspiration behind this blog), talks about the discipline needed to create truly successful campaigns. He believed that good advertising “sells the product without drawing attention to itself. It should rivet the reader’s attention on the product”. It should never say “what a clever advertisement”.

How does this apply to today’s world of digital media? Many “viral” campaigns are all about being clever while the product is almost invisible. Ogilvy was all about results and was obsessed with the performance-driven disciplines of mail-order, retail and consumer research. He talked about data years before it became part of the fabric of everyday life.

Ogilvy wrote his recipe for advertising campaigns that made “the cash register ring”. Let’s see how his “eleven commandments” work today:

1 – What you say is more important than how you say it.

“The content of the advertising, not its form” makes someone buy your product according to Ogilvy. In the world of print or TV advertising this may be more true than in the area of digital where brand experience is becoming more important. Form and content become blurred.

A great example is the Doritos Hotel 626 where the product makes way for an entertaining, branded experience that probably does more for the product than a site telling you about the way it’s made.


2 – Unless your campaign is built around a great idea, it will flop.

The face of advertising may be changing with new agencies springing up that offer new models and ways of thinking… but there is one thing that will never change. The power of the idea. Technology can support a great idea but not replace it. Campaigns built on a gimmick won’t have the legs to last very long.

Build your campaign around a bad idea (hello Windows 7 party) and you might end up with the wrong kind of publicity.

3 – Give the facts.

Here digital comes into it’s own. Where space was limited in print ads or 30 seconds on TV could only contain so much information, the internet allows people to dig as deep as they choose. Check out the Dove US website. With different levels of information and opportunities to engage, it really allows you to experience the brand philosophy and products in a tangible way.

4 – You cannot bore people into buying.

Ogilvy wrote that “the average family is now exposed to more than 1500 advertisements a day”. Imagine what that figure must be like today? It’s harder than ever to cut through the clutter and get the attention of your potential customer. Some of the best digital campaigns of the past year are definitely not boring. They even merit their own “making of”.

5 – Be well mannered, but don’t clown.

David’s comments are a definite throwback to the Madmen era of good manners and etiquette. Today “clowning” around online seems to be a required feature of most campaigns. What would Mr. Ogilvy think of it all? Even footballers are happy to be silly in this new campaign for the Fifa 10 game.

6 – Make your advertisements contemporary.

This is surely not what Ogilvy had in mind but being contemporary online means tapping into all the current digital trends. From crowdsourcing to social networking – the Public Polo campaign by Achtung captures the spirit of now.

7 – Committees can criticize advertisement, but they cannot write them.

A single-minded vision cannot be delivered by a group of people making decisions. The best online campaigns have clearly had a very brave client that is confident in a great idea.

Someone at McCann Erickson Israel came up with this original idea and the client went with it. Maybe because it also cost so little.


8 – If you are lucky enough to write a good advertisement, repeat it until it stops pulling.

In advertising history there have been many campaigns that have continued for years, constantly being updated but with one strong concept. The Louis Vuitton Journeys campaign is a great example of a good idea that travels far – and works equally well on and offline.

lv

9 – Never write an advertisement which you wouldn’t want your own family to read.

The Burger King Subservient Chicken was a great idea that didn’t offend anyone. But have they gone too far with the Shower Cam? Trust the British to risk offending consumers with a site where each morning a shower babe “shakes her bits to the hits at 9:30 a.m. every morning”. All to promote the BK breakfast.

10 – The image and the brand.

The internet throws up a big problem. How do you control all that is being said about your brand? Even if you have a consistent advertising and marketing message with a strong, identifiable style… someone somewhere online will upset the apple cart by trashing your carefully constructed image. This might be through an angry blog complaining about customer service or via someone mashing up your ads on YouTube.

11 – Don’t be a copycat.

Sorry to mention you again Microsoft but this was too late too lame…