Exhibit 8-10 United Technologies "punks" ad is an excellent example of a big idea in business-to-business advertising
Of course, the real challenge to the creative team is coming up with the big idea to use in the ad. Many products and services offer virtually nothing unique, and it can be difficult to find something interesting to say about them. The late David Ogilvy, generally considered one of the most creative advertising copywriters ever to work in the business, has stated:
I doubt if more than one campaign in a hundred contains a big idea. I am supposed to be one of the more fertile inventors of big ideas, but in my long career as a copywriter I have not had more than 20, if that.29
While really great ideas in advertising are difficult to come by, there are many big ideas that became the basis of very creative, successful advertising campaigns. Classic examples include "We try harder," which positioned Avis as the underdog car-rental company that provided better service than Hertz; the "Pepsi generation" theme and subsequent variations like "the taste of a new generation" and "GenerationNext"; the "Be all you can be" theme used in recruitment ads for the U.S. Army; and Wendy's "Where's the beef?" which featured the late, gravelly voiced Clara Peller delivering the classic line that helped make the fast-food chain a household name. More recent big ideas that have resulted in effective advertising campaigns include the "Intel inside" campaign for Intel microprocessors that go in personal computers; Nike's "Just do it"; the "It keeps going and going" theme for Energizer batteries, featuring the pink bunny; and the "Like a rock" theme for Chevrolet trucks.
Big ideas are important in business-to-business advertising as well. For example, United Technologies Corp., a company that provides high-technology products to aerospace and building-systems industries throughout the world, recently began a major advertising campaign to increase awareness of the firm and its various subsidiaries. One of the first advertisements in the campaign was the eye-catching ad shown in Exhibit 8-10, which uses the headline "the punks who killed heavy metal," with the headline atop of what vaguely looks like a movie blood splotch. The copy explains that the punks are actually scientists (notice the white pocket protectors) from the company's research center and touts their role in developing metal foams—materials much lighter than traditional metals—that will help make a variety of UTC products, from helicopters to jet engines to elevators, lighter and more economical to operate. The ad was very effective in cutting through the clutter of corporate advertising in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Barron's and BusinessWeek.
It is difficult to pinpoint the inspiration for a big idea or to teach advertising people how to find one. However, several approaches can guide the creative team's search for a major selling idea and offer solutions for developing effective advertising. Some of the best-known approaches follow:
• Using a unique selling proposition.
• Creating a brand image.
• Finding the inherent drama.
Unique Selling Proposition The concept of the unique selling proposition (USP) was developed by Rosser Reeves, former chair of the Ted Bates agency, and is described in his influential book Reality in Advertising. Reeves noted three characteristics of unique selling propositions:
1. Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: "Buy this product and you will get this benefit."
2. The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot or does not offer. It must be unique either in the brand or in the claim.
3. The proposition must be strong enough to move the mass millions, that is, pull over new customers to your brand.30
Reeves said the attribute claim or benefit that forms the basis of the USP should dominate the ad and be emphasized through repetitive advertising. An example of advertising based on a USP is the campaign for Colgate's new Total toothpaste (Exhibit 8-11).The brand's unique ingredients make it the only toothpaste that provides long-lasting protection and has been proved effective in fighting cavities between brushings.
For Reeves's approach to work, there must be a truly unique product or service attribute, benefit, or inherent advantage that can be used in the claim. The approach may require considerable research on the product and consumers, not only to determine the USP but also to document the claim. As we shall see in Chapter 21, the Federal Trade Commission objects to advertisers' making claims of superiority or uniqueness without providing supporting data. Also, some companies have sued their competitors for making unsubstantiated uniqueness claims.31
Advertisers must also consider whether the unique selling proposition affords them a sustainable competitive advantage that competitors cannot easily copy. In the packaged-goods field in particular, companies quickly match a brand feature for feature, so advertising based on USPs becomes obsolete. For example, a few years ago Procter & Gamble invented a combination shampoo and conditioner to rejuvenate its struggling Pert brand. The reformulated brand was called Pert Plus and its market share rose from 2 to 12 percent, making it the leading shampoo. But competing brands like Revlon and Suave quickly launched their own two-in-one formula products.32
Creating a Brand Image In many product and service categories, competing brands are so similar that it is very difficult to find or create a unique attribute or benefit to use as the major selling idea. Many of the packaged-goods products that account for most of the advertising dollars spent in the United States are difficult to differentiate on a functional or performance basis. The creative strategy used to sell these products is based on the development of a strong, memorable identity for the brand through image advertising.
David Ogilvy popularized the idea of brand image in his famous book Confessions of an Advertising Man. Ogilvy said that with image advertising, "every advertisement should be thought of as a contribution to the complex symbol which is the brand image." He argued that the image or personality of the brand is particularly important when brands are similar:
The greater the similarity between brands, the less part reason plays in brand selection. There isn't any significant difference between the various brands of whiskey, or cigarettes, or beer. They are all about the same. And so are the cake mixes and the detergents and the margarines. The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand will get the largest share of the market at the highest profit. By the same token, the manufacturers who will find themselves up the creek are those shortsighted opportunists who siphon off their advertising funds for promotions.33
Image advertising has become increasingly popular and is used as the main selling idea for a variety of products and services, including soft drinks, liquor, cigarettes, cars, airlines, financial services, perfume/ colognes, and clothing. Many consumers wear designer jeans or Ralph Lauren polo shirts or drink certain brands of beer or soft drinks because of the image of these brands. The key to successful image advertising is developing an image that will appeal to product users. For example, the sports apparel company No Fear uses this type of advertising to create a unique image for the brand as representing the outer limits of human performance. Ads like the one in Exhibit 8-12 have helped create this image for No Fear.
Exhibit 8-11 This Colgate Total ad uses a unique selling proposition
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