Topic: Book Club

Can A Traditional Ad Truly Stick Out With Succes?

Posted by Mark Goren on 500 Points
The famous "Where's the Beef" campaign by Wendy's is cited in chapter 4, "Credible". After describing the campaign, the authors make the following point: “During the first full year after the ads ran, Wendy’s revenues rose 31 percent.”

Question: Let's say an idea meets all the criteria for stickiness, can a result like this still be accomplished today – or is this hope beyond the ability of a traditional ad campaign?

Moderator Note: This discussion refers to the book Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath (topic: communications). Click the title to learn more. Then join the conversation. We'd LOVE for you to participate!

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  • Posted on Accepted
    Never - I believe a traditional ad campaign that has all of the elements needed to be a truly great ad campaign can still survive the ad market today. Advertisements of this nature are timeless.
  • Posted by Mark Goren on Author
    Interesting how definitive you both are, guys. Maybe I'm way off on this one. But I'm still not sure. Two questions:

    1. 31% growth in a year attributed to an ad campaign is huge. HUGE. Can anyone think of a recent example where such a tremendous gain can be directly attributed to a traditional ad campaign?

    My thoughts: I can't imagine this happening now. For a few reasons, including: A) the increasingly fragmented media B) extreme clutter c) consumer disinterest.

    2. Can you name one or two recent advertising campaigns that were not only sticky, but also resulted in you purchasing the product?

    My thoughts: I can't recall this happening in a long time. I guess because both are such tall orders. Developing the sticky idea, putting it in front of me at the right time and place and getting me to act.

    What are you thoughts?
  • Posted on Accepted
    I think what made the advertising so successful lied in how different the commercials were. There were no clowns, happy families eating at tables, etc. Just three elderly ladies with a meat patty and "a very big bun." The simplicity of the commercial, at least to me, was what made it stand out.

    As for credibility, viewers were asked to judge for themselves. The commercial INVITED viewers to judge its credibility. In a way, the ad makes the admission that advertising lacks credibility with views, which in some twisted way makes it MORE credible.

    The market space now is so saturated with advertising that its really difficult to get noticed much less to see a 31% jump in sales. In 1984, there was no Internet (at least not for the general public) no cellphones, no podcasts.

    You have to come up with something really, really special to get above the noise level...
  • Posted by Mark Goren on Author
    Thanks for chiming in, Dorothy. I couldn't agree more with your assessment. Getting noticed is the trick, but even if someone where to come up with a perfectly sticky idea – one that covered all points of the SUCCESS checklist – I still have reason to doubt that it could achieve such a high level of success.

    As you point out, breaking through is one thing – getting people to act is quite another.
  • Posted by Mark Goren on Author
    In regards to the Super Bowl spot you refer to Lori, is it that the ad itself was sticky, or was the idea to ask consumers to make a SUPER BOWL spot the sticky idea?

  • Posted on Accepted
    I think an ad today that covered all the SUCCESs points would still not get the same response from yesteryear. I think the ad machine is broken and it’s mainly due to the messenger. Like most good marketing tactics, ads have been used and abused by some. Now, few people trust them. I think that money would be better spent in creating a sticky consumer experience that the consumer will almost instinctively share instead of creating a sticky ad.
  • Posted by Mark Goren on Author
    Bill > Excellent point – and I agree wholeheartedly. First of all, 31% growth is HUGE and now, with so many delivery mechanisms involved, it would be largely impossible to credit any single execution with such growth.

    I think an idea can be sticky and effective, just not THAT effective.
  • Posted by Mark Goren on Author
    Steve: You raise some good points. Companies with nowhere to go but up and start-ups may see growth like this from a single campaign, sure, but is it likely to happen from a TV execution or three? I'm not so sure. Thoughts?
  • Posted on Accepted
    Mark, I think in the fragmented marketplae we have, the best way to get noticed is to be talking to the right people -- whatever the medium and timeframe. If this sounds a bit vague, it's because we are inventing new ways as we speak.

    I ask for recommendations from people I know, and trust, all the time. Even for mundane things like movies. If I consider us like-minded, I know I will share in the experience.

    Which brings us to the concept of group behavior. I don't think this has been talked about much. Generally, the ads tend to paint a wide brush. Yes?
  • Posted by Mark Goren on Author
    Great points, Valeria. And it's so true, we are inventing new ways as we speak. But it's your point before that's important – how do we ensure that we talk to the right people? I'm pretty sure/confident/adamant that it doesn't involve a TV spot that'll be TiVoed, skipped or ignored all together.

    One-on-one relationships, community building and so forth are a good starts, but how do we reach people who aren't spending their time online looking to connect with a product or brand?

  • Posted on Member
    One great way is through the people on the ground: sales and customer service. Let's imagine for a moment that customer service is not about making amends or repairing what it not working. That the model is being masters at building conversations.

    What would happen then? They would probably be part of the marketing team, having productive dialogues with people. Being trained at recognizing how to take the progression to the next step: referral and close.

    Yes, we tend to spend a lot of time talking about connecting, yet in B2B, the connection at some point needs to turn into a sale. Consumers will make buying decisions as they experience the brand. How do we make the same argument for purchasing departments of companies?

  • Posted by Mark Goren on Author
    Wow, I go into a couple of meetings and this thread comes to life. Beautiful.

    Valeria: Couldn't agree with you more. I was at lunch with a fellow blogger the other day and that's exactly what we were talking about. Customer Service is the number one marketing tool, we agreed. We also swapped a lot of stories about our negative experiences. And I found that interesting – the negative stories were more noteworthy than the real positive ones. In fact, we didn't share a single positive story.

    C.B.: Are the iPod ads sticky or is it the product itself that is sticky? Personally, I think it's the product and that the ads feed off it in a typical cool apple sort of way. Thoughts?

    Dan: Thanks for the Geico example, I didn't know these things about the campaign. Do you know of any cases about this campaign that can shed more light on it's effectiveness? And, one more thought: even for a startup, isn't 31% a lot to expect from a TV spot (or campaign). I would still think so. I would also think that it's unlikely for there not to be more in the media mix, including other traditional and non-traditional executions.

    Thanks to all for chiming in. Anyone else? Invitation is still wide open!
  • Posted on Accepted
    Measuring the results of a campaign is tough for growth companies. In those cases, you can easily see increases of several hundred (even more than a thousand) percent. I will assume we are not talking about those, but rather companies whose products exist in a more mature market.

    I have a hard time seeing how a traditional campaign can produce the results you're quoting in today's environment. But that's only because we have yet to redefine "traditional." 31% isn't out of the realm of possibilities once we do. :)
  • Posted by Mark Goren on Author
    Cam: Good point. There's no doubt that a product/company starting from nothing would have no trouble achieving that result, even from just one execution or campaign. But if you were to define traditional as offline media buys – TV, radio, print, outdoor, etc... – within a mature market, I'd be surprised if a company could gain that much growth from a single campaign, given all the additional clutter we have to contend with since the 80s.

    C.B.: Great point, can't argue it. And I like that you bring up the back and forth notion of a product – can an idea be so sticky that it makes everything around it easier to become sticky? Or, in Apple's case, is it just unrelated brilliance just coming together is sticky perfection?

  • Posted on Accepted
    I think two very sticky ad campaigns that have directly effected sales (no clue on % of sales) are the MAC vs. PC ads and the Nutri-System commercials with ex-NFL players.

    MAC/PC (disclaimer: I am a PC guy; only used a MAC a handful of times):
    --Simple - check; the message is loud and clear. PCs are not cool and MACs work better than you may think.
    --Unexpected - check; in-your-face Bill Gates look a like
    --Concrete - check; if someone uses a computer, they have had at least one conversation about these commercials
    --Emotional - check; is there a more emotional consumer group than MAC users?
    --Stories - check; the follow up commercials have not disappointed

    It is very hard to tell how much this campaign has effected sales because of the iPod's continued success and the anticipation around the iPhone.

    Nutri-System: shorter summary for this one. How are you going to get sports-watching overweight men to pay attention? Have Dan Marino tell you it worked for him. Stock price since February: 40ish to 60ish

    Just some random examples. I also love the Geico example.

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