Super Bowl commercials capture our attention because they tend to be highly creative and well-produced. At $3.5 million dollars for a thirty second spot, Super Bowl advertisers need to create the best, most innovative commercials possible. To do that, they use patterns. Professor Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues discovered that 89% of 200 award winning ads fall into a few simple, well-defined design structures. Their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," defines eight of these structures and provides a step-by-step approach to use them.
Here are the eight tools:
5. Extreme Consequence
6. Absurd Alternative
8. Extreme Effort
Let's see how yesterday's 2012 Super Bowl ads fit these patterns.
Insurance companies continue to battle it out as the industry emerges from the global financial crisis. They are spending huge sums on national advertising to establish brand loyalty and earn trust. But consumers have a hard time distinguishing between the many undifferentiated insurance products. They tend to shop on price as a result. So insurance advertisers have to walk a fine line acknowledging the importance of price while slipping in their value propositions around service and other features.
Here is an example from the long-running Progressive campaign featuring the lovable character, Flo. It uses the metaphor tool. The Metaphor is the most commonly used tool in marketing communications because it is a great way to attach meaning to a newly-launched product or brand. The Metaphor Tool takes a well-recognized and accepted cultural symbol and manipulates it to connect to the product, brand, or message.
Netflix needs urgent change to stop the bleeding and rebuild its business model. It is running out of cash and losing support from customers and shareholders. Management must re-establish its credibility with bold moves. Here is a series of steps and techniques to do that.
Most people are surprised to hear that five simple patterns explain the majority of innovative products and services. Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues discovered this surprising insight. It is similar to the notion of TRIZ which is a set of patterns for solving problems. Innovative products share common patterns because their inventors unknowingly followed them when generating new product ideas. These patterns become the DNA of products. You can extract the DNA and implant it into other products and services to create new innovations. We call it The Voice of the Product.
This month's Academic Focus features Professor John Hauser and the highly-regarded team at MIT. Perhaps no other university in the world stands for innovation as much as this one. MIT is an innovation powerhouse because of the way the faculty looks at innovation through multiple lens and collaborative approaches. MIT is great blend of innovation research, technology research, and commercialization research.
Great television commercials convey the right message in a creative way. They are memorable. The longer customers remember your commercial, the more cost effective the campaign.
One way to make ads memorable is to make them funny and vivid. The Vividness Effect causes people to recall experiences and images that stand out in their minds. For example, sharks are scary, so they tend to be good choices to create vividness. But just showing sharks in a commercial is not enough. They have to be fused to the core marketing message - the value proposition. That is where you need a structured innovation process to channel the creativity process and regulate your thinking.
Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues describe eight such tools in their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," and provide a step-by-step approach to using them. The tools are 1. Unification 2. Activation 3. Metaphor 4. Subtraction 5. Extreme Consequence 6. Absurd Alternative 7. Inversion and 8.Extreme Effort.
Innovation methods are not just for inventing new products. Savvy marketers also apply structured innovation methods to the “big event” – the product launch campaign. Companies spend millions of dollars to get a product off to the right start. The launch of a new product can make or break it.
Some companies excel at this. Memorable campaigns include Apple's launch of the iPhone, Microsoft's launch of Windows 95, and my all time favorite - Tickle Me Elmo - by Fisher Price. But a lot can go wrong with product launch, so marketers need ways to stand out from the crowd. Whether you have a big budget or small one, the use of a structured innovation method can take those dollars further and perhaps make the difference between success and failure.
For this month’s LAB, we will demonstrate the use of Systematic Inventive Thinking to this critical aspect of marketing: the product launch.
The Activation Tool is one of the most effective but underused tools in advertising. Commercials based on this tool work well because they make your marketing message stand out in the sea of advertising. They engage the viewer to participate in the advertisement, either mentally or physically. Instead of just reading, watching, or listening to the message, the viewer is required to take an active part. This causes a dynamic sensory experience so memorable that the viewer is more likely to remember the commercial's main message.
The tool is one of eight patterns embedded in most innovative commercials. Jacob Goldenberg and his colleagues describe these simple, well-defined design structures in their book, "Cracking the Ad Code," and provide a step-by-step approach to using them.
A quick and effective way to sort ideas generated during an innovation workshop is to apply brand coherence. This means grouping ideas around relevant themes that support new or existing brands. Ideation sessions can overwhelm you with hundreds of opportunities. Teams struggle with evaluating and selecting the best ideas if they do not apply this simple step first. Here is a suggested way to do it.
"Red tape" is defined as the collection or sequence of forms and procedures required to gain bureaucratic approval for something, especially when oppressively complex and time-consuming. That's how Southwest Airlines describes other airlines' frequent flyer programs versus its new Rapid Rewards program which has none of the traditional limitations like blackouts and point expiration. In a series of highly innovative commercials, Southwest demonstrates not one but two of the eight advertising tools described by Professor Jacob Goldenberg in "Cracking the Ad Code." These ads are flawlessly executed, funny, and memorable.