subscribe to fellow San Diegan and creative thinker Lee Silber ‘s
monthly “Fast Forward” free e-newsletter. On this one-week ’til
Superbowl eve, I wanted to share with you the following:
Ideas & Inspiration from Commercials
wouldn’t think you could learn much from a television commercial–I
think you can. I have to confess, I believe advertising is an art form.
When you watch the Super Bowl this year, notice how the commercials are
now as much a part of the experience as the game. Let me show you there
is more than meets the eye in those thirty second spots you desperately
want to fast forward past to get to your regular programming–silly
sitcoms, unreal reality shows, and disturbing dramas. Let’s take a quick
look at two top commercials (of all time?) which offer more than a
this commercial kids are (tongue-in-cheek) talking about what they want
to be when they grow up, including things like “I want to be under
appreciated”, and “I want to file allllllll day”, and “I want to claw my
way up to middle management.” Have we settled for less than we dreamed
of when we were young, idealistic, and hopeful about where we would be
and what we would do for our career? Right now many people are thankful
just to be working and making ends meet, but when this commercial first
appeared (1999) many were willing to wait for (or switch to) a position
that provided meaning instead of just a means to an end. Let’s hope we
see a time again when we can love what we do and be rewarded for it,
is a lot of back story that goes with this commercial. At the time this
spot was being conceptualized, Apple was a fragmented company divided
into two camps–the Steve Jobs team, and everyone else. It was Jobs (the
co-founder of Apple) who was convinced this grandiose (and expensive)
ad during the Super Bowl would launch the Macintosh brand and help him
realize his dream of a computer everyone could afford and use. The power
of passion, purpose, and putting plans into action (against
overwhelming opposition and small-mindedness) is the difference between
people being good and being great. Steve Jobs was later ousted by the
Apple board, but went on to start two other successful endeavors
(including Pixar) before coming back to build Apple into what it is
are probably too young to remember the iconic “Think Small” ads for the
Volkswagen Bug, but it is widely considered the best ad of the 20th
century. Not only did it increase sales and brand awareness, it had a
profound impact on advertising in general. Take a look: [http://adstrategy.wordpress.com/2010/11/16/think-small/].
What do you see? Actually, it’s what you don’t see that matters most.
What you see is white space. What you don’t see is clutter. Simplicity
and focus are the hallmark of great design, and this ad created by the
legendary Doyle Dane Bernbach is great design.
lesson we can all learn from this ad is the power of focus and
simplicity. It’s easy to overcomplicate our lives and lose sight of what
is most important. Having a focal point in an ad doesn’t mean there is
only one thing going on (like in the “Think Small” ad) but one thing
clearly stands out and is given a prominent position and emphasis.
is true in life. It’s best to have a focal point that we give priority
to (it guides our decisions and takes up our time) because it is the
most important thing. How you interpret the meaning of focus and
simplicity is your own, but it is something that helps everyone find
their “sweet spot” where they are doing what they do best, and love to
do—what makes them happiest and completely fulfilled.
and commercials are often blamed for creating an alternate universe
where everything is wonderful and the things we need to make our own
lives perfect are available for purchase. Sure, advertisers “sell us a
bill of goods” by showing the best of everything, an ideal that may or
may not be attainable–even with a Gold card. But some commercials share
a simple, but powerful message, and even if we don’t get there, trying
for it is still worthwhile. (No, I am not talking about products that
lead to an erection that lasts for 48 hours.) Let me explain.
commercial ran in the 1971 and to watch people of all nationalities
standing side by side singing was not the norm at that time. The slogan
for Coke during this period was “It’s The Real Thing”, and I believe
this commercial depicts the real thing . . . as it exists today. The
advertising executive who came up with the idea for the commercial (Bill
Backer) wanted to show that a simple beverage could be a common link
between people of different genders, races, backgrounds, social
standing, and provide an experience they could share together. Sounds a
lot like time spent at a Starbucks, doesn’t it? (There is a homeless
person in the Starbucks bathroom while a corporate executive stands in
line for a latte. See, there is truth in advertising.)
only we could laugh at some of the things that we scream and yell
about, life would be a lot less stressful . . . for everyone. As this
commercial depicts, humor has a way of making us (momentarily at least)
see the lighter side of things. It seems the best commercials use humor
as a way to entertain us so we are willing to sit and watch, when we
really want to get up and pee (or do whatever you do during commercial
breaks). Aha! There it is, the lesson I have been looking for. If we
could infuse humor and fun into the things we don’t necessarily enjoy,
we may find some joy in them after all.
baloney has a first name, it’s . . . ” I bet you can finish that
sentence. How about this one: “Tastes great, less . . . ” Or, “When you
care enough to send . . . ” Advertisers
use slogans as a way to make us remember their unique selling
proposition (what makes them better and different than the competition)
and why we should become a loyal customer.
can be in the form of a question like “Where’s the beef?” (Wendy’s) and
“Got milk?” (Milk) They can be action oriented, “Just do it” (Nike) and
“Let your fingers do the walking” (Yellow Pages). There are some that
make us feel special when we use these items, “Breakfast of champions”
(Wheaties) and “Think different” (Apple). But the best ones tell us why
this product or service is so good, “It does a body good,” (Milk) or
“Good to the last drop” (Maxwell House) or “Melts in your mouth, not in
your hands” (M&Ms).
believe we should all create our own slogans–whether we work for
ourselves or not–as a way of explaining our own uniqueness and
greatness in one easy to remember sentence. It could be a play on an
existing tag line like, “Nothing lasts like the Energizer bunny”, “Don’t
leave home without it” (American Express), “By Mennen”, or “Nothing
sucks like an Electolux”. Okay, that last one won’t work, but how about
“Have it your way,” (Burger King) or “Just do it” (Nike). We should be
able to explain what we do, what we do for others (as well as how we do
it better than our competitors) in one simple sentence.
I am not selling anything–even though this entire newsletter has been
about ads and commercials. I love writing these articles and look
forward to each new issue. Creating is its own reward. The second best
part is feedback from readers. That’s like striking it rich for me, a
nice note from someone who enjoys reading what’s written that month.
Thanks for your support and I hope you enjoy this issue. [email@example.com and http://www.leesilber.com]
Great blog, Bobbin! This is the kind of blog that I will read all the way to the end because it teaches & offers helpful information. Thanks much.
Your thought are very much appreciated!