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The Advertising Effectiveness Matrix

This ad is awesome, right?

I mean, it’s a viral sensation that’s been viewed millions of times. And in a world where people skip 30-second TV spots and click on YouTube’s “Skip Ad” after 3 interminable seconds, it’s impressive to find yourself watching a 3-minute commercial to the end. But I find myself asking, was it a good commercial?

In a post on product design, Andrew Chen talks about the tradeoff between virality and alignment with your value proposition.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 1.35.58 PM

It might be useful to plot ad creatives on a similar chart, but with the horizontal axis renamed “brand alignment.” So I had my infographics guy whip this up:

The Advertising Effectiveness Matrix

The Advertising Effectiveness Matrix

Every now and then a brand creates a commercial that tells its story and everyone is talking about it: Awesome. Examples might be Coke’s Mean Joe Green commercial from my youth (and I’m still talking about it, thirstily), or anything from Apple. They create emotional experiences we want to share with others, and they make us desire a product at the same time.

Most commercials fall short of that magic but they’re good enough to watch, and with some frequency they can do their job of luring us into the mouth of the purchase funnel. Car and cosmetics commercials generally land here; nothing much to talk about, but we’d all like to look like those handsome happy people on TV. It’s been working for decades, and it still works.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a 2-by-2 matrix that doesn’t have a lower left quadrant. To steal from Andrew Chen, it’s the land of WTF. When I see a commercial that I don’t want to talk about and I can’t remember who made it, I sort of feel bad. All that money and marketing-department optimism gone to waste. Look, it’s hard to make a great film, let alone a great one that can be told in half a minute and also highlights a product. Perhaps we should admire the brands that depart from the traditional promotional formula and flap their waxy wings toward a higher ambition, even if the heat of the sun sends them crashing down in the end.

But back to the Thai cellphone commercial above. The vertical axis is hardly tall enough to capture its viral success. But does the story make you want to switch your cellphone service to True Move H? Did you know it was a commercial from a cellphone company called True Move H? In my case, I was dabbing tears from my eyes for the few seconds during which their logo appeared on screen. No doubt True Move made a great short film, but if I consider it a marketing tool, I’d place in the upper left quadrant: (Un)Branded Entertainment that fails as an advertisement.

The United Brands of America

Brands by State

A map of America with each state represented by its most famous brand. I don’t know who counted the votes here, and I’m surprised by a few picks: Caterpillar over McDonalds in Illinois, Wendy’s over Tide in Ohio, and Verizon in the #1 spot for New York. Meanwhile I’m wondering how the folks at Tropicana are feeling about Florida.

Is Coke’s 2013 Superbowl Spot Anti-Advertising?

You know advertising has an identity problem when even actors in Coke commercials view a Coke billboard with distain.

New Coca-Cola Ads Confront Obesity

Next week Coke will air several new commercials that address rising obesity and the perception that sugary soft drinks contribute to the problem. The ads will suggest ways to burn off 140 calories and recommend a beverage diet that includes more of the sugar-free alternatives. But it doesn’t sound like Coke will be taking any direct responsibility for the fact that people drink too much of their liquid goodness. From Salon:

Coca-Cola said its ads aren’t a reaction to negative public sentiment. Instead, the idea was to raise awareness about what the company has done and the work it plans to do in coming months regarding obesity, said Stuart Kronauge, general manager of sparkling beverages for Coca-Cola North America….

In the ad, a narrator notes that obesity is an issue that ‘concerns all of us’ but that people can make a difference when they ‘come together.’ The spot was produced by Brighthouse and Citizen2 and is intended to reflect Coca-Cola’s corporate responsibility among cable news viewers.

There’s nothing untrue about that — it’s not like Coke is forcing us to drink its soda. But that sounds a little evasive, no? A bit like the argument my gun-enthusiast friend once gave me when I blamed gun deaths on guns: Guns don’t kill people, he told me, bullets do — guns just make them go really fast.

Superbowl XLVI Ads: Winners and Losers

Over dinner tonight with three colleagues, the conversation quickly made its way to the commercial breaks at yesterday’s Superbowl. We agreed on handful of favorites: Both Doritos spots (Man’s Best Friend and Slingshot Baby), the debut of Ms Brown for M&Ms, Clint Eastwood’s Halftime in America for Chrysler, and Matthew Broderick’s day off with a Honda CR-V. We could agree that GoDaddy’s ads were the worst. But in between there was no consensus. So I thought I’d seek out a scientific approach.

Facebook and USA Today teamed up on the Ad Meter, a broad-based poll that’s still collecting votes as well as a panel of viewers who logged their preferences as they watched. The Ad Meter’s top 5: Doritos (Slingshot Baby), Kia, Bud Light (Weego), M&Ms and Doritos (Man’s Best Friend). The worst 5 included two GoDaddy spots and two Bud Light Platinum spots.

Ace Metrix, a company that specializes in research on TV ads, applied a numerical score to each Superbowl ad. I can’t vouch for its methodology, but the company’s website says they “defined the concept of Creative Lifecycle Management” (with a trademark TM), which sounds impressive. Doritos, Clint Eastwood, Ms Brown and Matthew Broderick all took top spots — with those boring if mildly cute Coke polar bears also grabbing two of the top 10 spots. Among the worst 10, according to Ace, were three from Budweiser, one from Bud Light (Platinum), H&M (David Beckham), and that odd Century 21 spot that seemed to imply Donald Trump is one of the world’s smartest people.

The / Mullen Advertising collaboration called Brand Bowl 2012 measured the twitter buzz. While the Doritos ads racked up the biggest numbers, Ms Brown won the sentiment contest, with more than 41% of tweets about her spot saying something favorable. (If you’re a size-matters type of person, David Beckham’s spot for H&M finished second after Doritos in total number of tweets.)

Michael Learmonth at Ad Age pursued a different angle. Forget about the in-the-moment indicators such as buzz and tweets. Which ads did we like so much that we sought them out online to watch them again? If that’s the measure of success, Honda blew Doritos away. And the much-hyped VW’s Dog Strikes Back — which landed 14 spots down on the Ace survey, and #6 by Ad Meter — heads into the online competition in the #2 position, spitting distance from the trophy.

Afri-Cola Commercial from 1968

This 1968 German commercial for Afri-Cola surfaced on Boing Boing again recently. Here’s the original Boing Boing post from 2005. As much as one may enjoy (??) the spot’s unusual blend of nuns, soft-core porn and free love advocacy, it wasn’t enough to maintain leadership for Germany’s one-time dominant soft drink brand. From Wikipedia:

After the Second World War, Afri-Cola became one of the most popular drinks in Germany and a symbol of the German Wirtschaftswunder. In 1952, the company launched Bluna, a lemonade similar to Fanta, which also became a hit among customers. However, in the hard competition of the 60s, Afri-Cola started to lose its influence on the German market to Coca Cola and Pepsi. The commercial designer and photographer Charles Wilp started a marketing campaign to regain its image. However, the market share of Afri-Cola continued to dwindle during the 1980s and 1990s.

Coke’s Pour It On Campaign Back in Rotation

When the CMO of Coke includes this anti-Coke PSA in her presentation at the 2011 IAB Leadership Meeting, you’d think every Coke agency — including small ones that work on regional co-op campaigns in partnership with groceries chains like Safeway — would know about it, and would avoid using materials from the original “Let It Pour” campaign in subsequent ads. Well, apparently not. This billboard is back in rotation in San Francisco.

Billboard at the corner of Valencia and 24th Streets.

100 Years of Coke Bottles

Photo from via Nippys. That 1916 bottle looks great.

200 Brands With the Largest Ad Budgets

Would you have guessed that Chevy spends more than Ford or Toyota? Or that Macy’s spends more than Target? Other rankings that surprised me: Arm & Hammer spends more than Gatorade, Kia spends more than Volkswagen, and Ashley Furniture spends more than Ikea.

Check out this great infographic that ranks the top 200 brands by the size of their 2009 and 2010 ad budgets.

Top Auto Ad Spenders

The top two in each category (first, second):

Auto: Chevy, Ford
Retail: Walmart, Macy’s
Apparel: Skechers, Nike
Telecom: AT&T, Verizon
Restaurants: McDonald’s, Subway
Food and Beverage: Coke, Campbell
Beer: Budweiser, Miller
Cleaning Products: Tide, Clorox
Financial Services: American Express, Chase
Beauty and Personal Care: L’Oreal Paris, Olay
Insurance: Geico, Progressive
Consumer Electronics: Microsoft, Apple
Media: DirecTV, Dish Network
Drugs: Lipitor, Cialis

Coca-Cola Friendship Machine

This campaign won the Gold Lion at Cannes in the Outdoor category and is a favorite among the folks at Adverblog.

I’m not so sure. Cute idea for a party, but I’ve got to believe the delightful novelty wears off quick.