Pop quiz: What was the top Super Bowl 2018 ad according to USA Today’s Ad Meter?
Heck, if you can name one of the top ten, I will give you bonus points.
The reason you can’t remember the best ad or any ads from the big game, it’s not the best tool.
It’s not the best tool because it doesn’t connect, make an impact, or leave a mark.
You see brand marketing doesn't work in the direct marketing world.
Brand marketing is from a different age. A different business environment. A different communication era.
Brand marketing was created when John Wanamaker’s statement “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half” worked because it could work.
It could work because advertisers created a mass broadcast communications environment to serve its needs.
Radio was created to sell ads.
Television was created to sell ads.
Brian Millar, co-founder of the Emotional Intelligence Agency, writes "traditional advertising went after ‘share of mind’–the idea was to get you to associate a brand with a single idea, a single emotion. Volvo: safety. Jaguar: speed. Coke: happiness. The Economist: success. Bang, bang, bang, went the ads, hammering the same idea into your mind every time you saw one.
"Advertising briefs evolved to focus the creatives on a single unique selling position and a single message. Tell them we’re the Ultimate Driving Machine. Tell them in a thrilling way. It worked when you saw ads infrequently on television, in a Sunday magazine, or on a billboard on your morning commute."
This type of advertising worked because it was a communications environment of one to many with only a handful of vehicles to reach an audience.
But that is not today.
Today we are living in a direct marketing world powered by the WWW.
Now we have micro-media and personalized broadcast communications environment which serves the needs of the end user.
The internet was not created for ads.
The internet is not mass media.
To better understand this new communications environment the Emotional Intelligence Agency conducted a study to understand what kind of content works. The firm found communications which used funny, useful, beautiful, and inspiring content delivers the best results. Not surprising the most successful brands do all four.
Also not surprising these are the adjectives used by any top storyteller. She knows they are best words when executing micro and personalized communications.
Yet most of us communicate using only one type of emotionally compelling content - if at all - employing brand marketing techniques that are closer to the days of Mad Men them to the present day of Laundry Service.
We still communicate like once a day, or worse just a few times a month. Instead of using tools that follow and engage our most active supporters in their media diet.
When it comes to the WWW and the direct marketing communications environment, being multidimensional beats being single-minded.
Surprise beats consistency.
Emotion beats fact.
Funny beats dour.
Useful beats sales.
Beautiful beats boring.
Inspirational beats directional.
The best communicators have always understood this instinctively.
By the way, USA Today’s Ad Meter ranked Amazon's "Alexa Loses Her Voice" as the best 2018 ad.
I don't remember the ad either. But I do remember my friends telling me a story or two about Alexa that used funny, useful, beautiful, and inspiring words to describe their experiences.
-Marc A. Ross
Marc A. Ross is the founder of Caracal Global and specializes in global communications and thought leader management at the intersection of politics, policy, and profits. Working with boardrooms and C-Suite executives from multinational corporations, trade associations, and disruptive startups, Marc helps business leaders navigate globalization, disruption, and American politics.