by Ryan Jones
Managing Director at SLG Agency
When you start off on a journey, you’re never 100% certain of where you’ll land.
It’s the same when briefing in a creative project. You have your insight, aims, objectives and audience knowledge (and budget – list your financial controller threaten violence on all parties), but it’s impossible to know what creative spark might take fire.
This piece started life as a discussion between Mark Fraser and I about classic advertising and the kinds of ideas that we love. While we both recognised the limitation of some modern formats, the penny dropped that there’s always been format limitations – but the work that we love either subverts or ignores them altogether.
The best idea always wins.
That’s the guts of Mark’s point here, strategy provides a road map, but creative helps develop a memorable journey.
Or words to that effect, I’ll let the copywriter take it from here…
If you could convince your clients to try one thing, what would it be and why?
It would be to make effective use of the space that’s most appropriate to their audiences.
Effective use of space. What does it mean?
Back in the day, it meant a single page print ad or a double page spread. But what it didn’t mean was fill that space. Indeed, DDB in the US understood exactly what that meant. In a post-war America, and in an economic boom, the agency had a job to do to launch a small German car designed by Hitler himself into a nation where feelings about Nazi Germany were still high and cars were large.
DDB New York produced a VW ad that made the space effective. They used a very small image of a Volkswagen Beetle surrounded by white space and with the headline, ‘Think small’. The ad became recognised by Advertising Age as being the greatest ad of all time and changed the industry forever.
They used the space to enhance the idea.
You can read the full story here:
Constraints in communication can be frustrating, but as marketers, advertisers, creatives and strategists, a platform’s space, is a platform’s space – we can’t change that. Whether it’s an A4 print ad, an online digital ad or a social platform ad, the templates are set.
The good news is, everyone’s in the same boat, and you’re not completely shackled.
You have creative freedom on your side. With digital being the main driver for communications in today’s markets, it’s more relevant – and important – to maximise that creative freedom.
Every Facebook ad, every Instagram feed, and every tweet looks the same insofar as templates go, so it makes sense to utilise the space effectively. Research from Hootsuite.com shows that if brands want to make a real, lasting impression, they’ll have to work harder to create ads that mirror and enrich the distinct experience each social network offers. They say Social Media Managers will need to get creative as the ad space becomes more competitive and produce high-quality content that mirrors each network’s distinct experience.
Whilst Snapchat research suggests that with just 2 seconds engagement of an ad, only 26% of audiences of 40 years and above could recall those ads.
Source: Hootsuite.com and Snapchat.
But let’s be honest, people want and need to be entertained. You wouldn’t expect a movie trailer to be 2 seconds long, so why should a potential customer be excited after 2 seconds of seeing your ‘BUY MY PRODUCT’ headline?
You can’t tell a story in 2 seconds. But don’t get lazy. Coercion is tempting, yes, but dangerous. With headlines like “Warning!” or “Attention!” or even “Would you like a free Porsche?” are likely to be ignored, but even if they’re not and the reader clicks through only to find there wasn’t anything to justify those headlines except to deceive them, then you are unlikely to ever get a second roll of the dice.
IT MAY NOT BE A BLOCKBUSTER MOVIE, BUT ASPIRE TO MAKE IT ONE
Whilst it’s true that people are spending their spare time (and work time) on social and online in some form or other, they do relax with a good (or not so good) movie or series. The production values and stories within these pieces are substantial, full of great stuff to keep the audiences coming back for more. YOUR ad should aspire to that result.
Low budgets can and do produce great work, but if you want kudos, get your Game of Thrones head on.
Agencies and clients need to shake off the misconception that social platform ads and digital content is ‘swiped’ constantly and that your ads only have seconds to engage. This is true of ANY communication including outdoor posters and print ads.
Engagement and recall aren’t about speed, they’re about providing intrigue, desire, suspense, excitement… and creativity.
Yes, people swipe through the ads, through the content, throughout the day, the week, the month. And yes, they’ll dwell on an article that’s specifically targeted to them. But if people aren’t already engaging with you, your objective to persuade them to do so is as obvious as everyone else’s objective to do so. Bombarding them with messages that are no different to anyone else’s, however, won’t do the trick.
SHARE AND SHARE AND SHARE AND…
So, your audience has engaged. Now what?
Well obviously, the call to action will prompt them to make an enquiry or make a purchase. But there’s something much bigger that your ad needs to do. It needs to be THAT amazing, that people want to share it and reshare it.
I have an iPhone. I love my iPhone. But I’m bored with Apple advertising. Recently, I was browsing YouTube and I was stopped in my tracks by a post. It wasn’t 2 seconds long. It was an image of a spider. I clicked on it because it was such an unusual thing to see. Turns out, it was a new 1-minute, 20-second film for the launch of Samsung’s new Galaxy S22 Ultra smartphone.
I remembered it and shared it even though I still don’t want to change from Apple to Samsung. But someone might. And that’s how a space, becomes an effective use of space.
See the ad here:
Think creatively. Effective use of these spaces means well-thought-through campaigns, engaging creative pieces that can be longer than 2 seconds, even 2-minute-long videos, a suite of short stories…a change of direction.
Think of the ad space as your X-factor stage. If the audition is just like everyone else’s, it’s a “no” from me, and it’ll be a “no” from them.