The following is a conversation that many of you have no doubt overheard (or perhaps been directly part of) in your advertising career. The details are not important; it's the structure that's worrisome. It goes something like this:
AD = Art Director
CW = Copywriter
AD: "We need a killer idea for this campaign. Something really cool."
CW: "Agreed. This should be an award winner."
AD: "What can we do that is amazing? What's never been done before?"
CW: "Well, let's check out Ads Of The World."
AD: "Good place to start."
CW: "Oh, hang on, wouldn't it be cool if we did a billboard that talked to people, asked them questions, something like that?"
AD: "Or what if it was always changing?! Can we do that?"
CW: "I bet we could, we have the money. What are we advertising again?"
AD: "Peanut butter."
CW: "Oh, we can easily make that fit into the idea we've just had."
CW: "Let the reverse engineering begin."
It is not uncommon for lazy creative teams to seek out the cool execution first, and then back the product into that idea. And it happens all the time. In fact, if you look at Ads Of The world, it won't take long to sift out those ideas that were made to fit the execution.
They won't feel quite right. They'll feel cooler than they should, or overly art-directed. They may look out of place. You'll wonder "what does that have to do with the product?" but hey, it's really well shot and the copy (if there is any) is well written, so who cares if it doesn't quite sit well?
The consumer. That's who.
They're not looking for award-winning work. They're not interested in advertising actually. They will connect with the ad, and the product or service, if it says something to them that's both RELEVANT and in context, and in an interesting way.
ALWAYS Start With The Product. The Ideas Will Follow From It.
You may get lucky and stumble onto an execution that fits the product or service you're advertising, but why chance those odds? It's easier, and better, to sit with the product or service and work with a strong creative brief. It will take a little more time, but the end result will be so much better, and hopefully unique.
For example, let's imagine you're advertising a new dry cleaning service.
An easy approach would be to think of something cool to do with dry cleaning and wrap it around that. Maybe you send people a coat hangar in the mail, with your message written on the paper that wraps around it.
But any dry cleaners could say that. It may look cool, but what's tying it to your client? It's way better to look at what makes the dry cleaner you're advertising different. Do they have a guarantee to get out any stains or the job is free? Do they do it faster? Do they have an angle? Start there. And if not, create an angle.
If you're selling cell phones, it's easy to look at cool ways to advertise them. But are they relevant? Your billboard may change colors throughout the day and night, but what does that have to do with anything? Maybe your cell phone has the lowest rates, so think of something that ties to that. It means you can talk more for the same amount of money. What's the net result of talking more? A sore throat? Jaw ache? Is there an idea in that?!
Remember, cool is great if it stems from the product or service. But if it's simply a hollow device with no substance, it will not help your cause.