26 January, 2011

There are only 12 Kinds of Television Ads in the World

In 1978, Donald Gunn, the creative director for the Leo Burnett, the advertising agency took a year's sabbatical and studied the best television ads he could find.

He determined that all ads fall into the following categories:

Demo ad:Visual demonstration of a product's capabilities
Show the need or problem:Demonstrate the problem and then show the remedy (eg a dropped mobile phone call)
Symbol, analogy, or exaggerated graphic:Same as (2), but the problem is a feeling, so the problem of pounding headache is symbolically represented as a drummer pounding a bass drum.
Comparison Ad:Compares product with competitors
Exemplary story:A short narrative is played out, which illustrates the product's benefits (Jenny's school play is tonight, but there's a stain on her costume. What will mum do?)
Benefit causes story:Shows a series of scenarios all because the central character adopts the product
Testimonial:'I had that problem until I used brand X'
Ongoing characters and celebrities:the use of a recurring character, or celebrity, can help cement a brand's identity into the viewer's brain. eg the Energizer Bunny
Symbol, analogy, or exaggerated graphic:Same as (3) but it demonstrates the benefits of the product (rather than the problem)
Associated user imagery:People achieving brilliant things all because they use this product
Unique personality property:A pitch from the founder or endorser (eg James Dyson for vacuum cleaners, Remmington for electric shavers)
Parody or borrowed format: The use of the product is parodied, so that the product is tied to parody. The ad relies on the user understanding the parody

Original article by Seth Stevenson at Slate.com. Go to the site for examples of each ad.

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