Thursday, July 2, 2009

Advertising works best when you have a specific challenge.

Advertising works best when you have a specific challenge.

While brand 'awareness' as a measure is sometimes legit, it can also be lazy as a strategy. Before deciding that advertising is the answer, spend more time on the question. What exactly is the communication challenge? Try to get beyond "We want more sales". For example, do you want new customers? Or do you want existing customers to buy more of your current product? Or buy something else? Or, as in the Campbell Soup example, do you want them to use more of what they already have? Or use it at a different time?

The 'Got Milk?' campaign is a wonderful example of advertising strategy.

Faced with a steady decline in milk sales over many years, the Californian Milk Processor Board and their agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, devised a very insightful campaign, targeting teenagers and young people.

They realised that milk was boring. Everybody knew milk. Making people more aware of milk would hardly drive sales. What could they possibly say that was new or interesting?

Their used this insight - teenagers often have milk with particular food types, such as chocolate brownies, cookies and peanut butter sandwiches.

So, instead of promoting milk itself - they decided to market milk as a necessity for these other very desirable foods. They now had a very specific communication challenge - to remind their audience how delicious this combination of milk and cookies was. Remind them to have milk with their peanut and butter sandwiches. Get them to want a chocolate brownie. And make sure they have milk on hand so they enjoy it more. Above is one of their original series of ads. They went on to make a lot more.

The result? They stopped the decline. Milk consumption in California increased for the first time in over 10 years.

See full case study here and read more about it in Jon Steel's book.

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