What Makes A TV Commercial Memorable And Effective?

Steve Olenski

Before I get to the point of my article, if you want to argue the point that TV advertising is dead and TV in general is dead and we’ll all be walking around on moving sidewalks like the Jetsons in the next 5-10 years, fine. Just leave your thoughts in the comment section and I will respond in kind with a reply which essentially says “you’re out of your mind.”

Ok, now that we have that out of the way.

A few years ago I posed the following query: What makes a TV commercial memorable? And follow up question, is it the product you remember or just the commercial itself?

I was very curious to see what people thought when they saw a given TV commercial. Did they remember the spot itself? Did they remember the brand? Both? Kind of goes without saying that if you’re a brand manager or brand marketer or advertiser, etc. if given the choice you would rather people remember your brand or product, right?

English: A typical "As seen on TV" l...

I received quite a number of replies to my query and I want to share some of them with you and I also want to see, based on your comments, if you think anything has changed in the years since I first asked the question.

Some findings:

  • Humor was definitely the most-oft used word to describe what makes a commercial memorable.
  • Other words that came up a lot were “tagline” and “jingle”
  • Many mentioned the use of an iconic-type character as being an integral part of making a commercial stand out from the pack.
  • Another person took it a step further and delved deeper into the heart of the advertising matter (BTW, this is a great, GREAT point): ”Advertising, especially TV commercials can get customers in the door only one time. After that, it’s up the seller to build trust and loyalty.”

The last comment ties in perfectly by the way with someone I wrote last year entitled “Social Media’s Dirty Little Secret” which essentially said the same thing only in the context of social media. Doesn’t matter how good you are at social media and/or advertising and marketing. What gets people coming back and becoming loyal customers is a) a quality product, service or ware and b) sold at a good price.

Here’s some of the answers I received in their entirety:

  • “Heart and or Humor. One that tickles the funny bone, makes you laugh out loud and call a person in the other room … “Hey, you’ve gotta come see this commercial …” On the flip side, one that pulls at the heart strings, or even at times rips the heart right out of your chest with power, energy or fear, causing you to pause and think. Makes you say “wow!” They only come along so often. Product is not always the most memorable part – think of how many times you’ve said, “I saw this great commercial, don’t remember exactly what it was for, but …” I seem to remember product on the powerful serious spots – less so on the funny commercials where sometimes the punchline over powers product.”
  • “It is best done with an icon, a grabbing tag line, a memorable jingle, and humor, with the icon and the brand tied together…Examples: “Energizer Bunny” or “Tony the Tiger” for Kellogg cereal. To stand out and become memorable, it must be unconventional. The conventional is boring, and immediately forgotten, because it never engages the consumer.”
  • “If you don’t remember the product or service, the ad is a failure. The ad should address a need, demonstrate how the product or service meets the need, and do it in a compelling, memorable way, with a device known as a hook. 25 years after it ran, people still remember Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” ad. It is a great example of saying, “Wendy’s burgers are so big, they stick out from the bun. The other guys’ burgers are so small, you have to look for the patty!” Beautiful. Dang. Now I’m hungry for a Wendy’s burger.”
  • “Generally for me, a TV spot has to score high in 2 areas to be memorable: sheer entertainment value and disruption/thought-provoking ability. That second category covers those few ingenious spots every year that go completely against the settled order of things to really achieve something different. As for whether I remember the product or just the commercial itself, that varies. But I bet you a dollar to a donut that those of us in the biz latch on to the sponsor probably five times more often than the average viewing Joe or Jane — so if we’re inconsistent in our recall, imagine how they do on that score.”
  • “Commercials that portray people getting hurt are most memorable, i.e. falling off the ladder, walking into the glass door, the football player hitting office workers. Interestingly, I can’t say for certain which products they were pitching.”

Getting hurt, falling you say? You mean like this one that’s currently running for Sears?

By the way I love this spot for Sears. I love how it starts off one way then very quickly and quite humorously takes you in another direction. And no, it did not cause me to go buy an appliance from Sears but I did remember that it was for Sears in the first place.

More replies:

  • “It’s just the commercial people remember. Many people (myself included) sometimes refer to the bunny as the Eveready Bunny. Don’ think that’s what the Energizer people want.”
  • “Stupid commercials are the most memorable, followed by funny ones. I tend to remember a commercial first then the product.”
  • “I produced commercials for ESPN for a few years. My experience as a producer and as a consumer tells me it’s the commercial.”
  • “A human truth engagingly presented. Most TV commercials are not effective: because either:
    a.The writer would rather be in Hollywood or
    b.The client thinks the world is fascinated by his brand.

Effective TV advertising is all about the consumer and filling her needs: emotional, rational or both.”

I think this last comment has a lot of merit. I absolutely think that a lot of copywriters – and creative directors and other various agency personnel as well as those on the client side have visions of Hollywood dancing in their heads when they conceive and create and produce many TV spots. In other words they are trying to inflate their own ego rather than focusing on what’s really important – selling!

I also believe this last comment has merit from the perspective many clients/brands/advertisers have a distorted view of what the real world thinks of their product.

Depends On The Brand

Back in August my friend David Brier wrote a piece for Fast CompanyWhat Every CEO Can Learn From Best Buy’s (Continued) Branding Mistakes.” What David was referring to was Best Buy‘s new tagline “Making Technology Work for You” which he thought was horrible on many levels as did I.

The reason I bring this up is I thought the new Best Buy tagline was horrible for the simple reason they didn’t need to be so literal. The have an established level of brand equity which earns them the right to be creative, fun, offbeat, wacky even in their tagline.

And I think the same holds true for advertising and in this case, TV advertising.

If a brand is well established – and those brands know who they are, that should afford them to be creative, fun, offbeat, wacky even in their TV spots. I’m not saying that if a brand has established equity they can do whatever they want. No, far from it. Brand equity is sacred and is earned for sure. There is a level of trust that is inherent in brand equity.But a brand can still let it’s collective hair down now and then, right?

The Sears commercial is a great example.

Do you really think someone who was considering buying an appliance made their purchase decision to buy from Sears or not based on that commercial?

Do you really think if someone who watched it then thought ‘Well that commercial was terrible. I was going to buy a refrigerator at Sears, but not now.”

Conversely if your brand does not have the equity of a Sears that does not necessarily mean they need to play it close to the vest. Heck no. Have fun. Be funny. Use humor. If applicable.

Just remember to convey your message so that someone watching it remembers you and your brand first. If they remember the spot too, that’s a bonus.

One Final Thing

This is arguably my favorite commercial of all time. If not, it’s in the top 10. You should instantly recognize it and even after all these years I still remember it AND the product.

Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred, Steve Olenski is a senior content strategist at Responsys, a leading global provider of on-demand email and cross-channel marketing solutions. 


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13 Scary Statistics On Employee Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Jacob Shriar

There is a serious problem with the way we work.

Most employees are disengaged and not passionate about the work they do. This is costing companies a ton of money in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. It’s also harmful to employees, because they’re more stressed out than ever.

The thing that bothers me the most about it, is that it’s all so easy to fix. I can’t figure out why managers aren’t more proactive about this. Besides the human element of caring for our employees, it’s costing them money, so they should care more about fixing it. Something as simple as saying thank you to your employees can have a huge effect on their engagement, not to mention it’s good for your level of happiness.

The infographic that we put together has some pretty shocking statistics in it, but there are a few common themes. Employees feel overworked, overwhelmed, and they don’t like what they do. Companies are noticing it, with 75% of them saying they can’t attract the right talent, and 83% of them feeling that their employer brand isn’t compelling. Companies that want to fix this need to be smart, and patient. This doesn’t happen overnight, but like I mentioned, it’s easy to do. Being patient might be the hardest thing for companies, and I understand how frustrating it can be not to see results right away, but it’s important that you invest in this, because the ROI of employee engagement is huge.

Here are 4 simple (and free) things you can do to get that passion back into employees. These are all based on research from Deloitte.

1.  Encourage side projects

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload. Let them explore their own passions and interests, and work on side projects. Ideally, they wouldn’t have to be related to the company, but if you’re worried about them wasting time, you can set that boundary that it has to be related to the company. What this does, is give them autonomy, and let them improve on their skills (mastery), two of the biggest motivators for work.

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload.

2.  Encourage workers to engage with customers

At Wistia, a video hosting company, they make everyone in the company do customer support during their onboarding, and they often rotate people into customer support. When I asked Chris, their CEO, why they do this, he mentioned to me that it’s so every single person in the company understands how their customers are using their product. What pains they’re having, what they like about it, it gets everyone on the same page. It keeps all employees in the loop, and can really motivate you to work when you’re talking directly with customers.

3.  Encourage workers to work cross-functionally

Both Apple and Google have created common areas in their offices, specifically and strategically located, so that different workers that don’t normally interact with each other can have a chance to chat.

This isn’t a coincidence. It’s meant for that collaborative learning, and building those relationships with your colleagues.

4.  Encourage networking in their industry

This is similar to number 2 on the list, but it’s important for employees to grow and learn more about what they do. It helps them build that passion for their industry. It’s important to go to networking events, and encourage your employees to participate in these things. Websites like Eventbrite or Meetup have lots of great resources, and most of the events on there are free.

13 Disturbing Facts About Employee Engagement [Infographic]

What do you do to increase employee engagement? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up here and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

This infographic was crafted with love by Officevibe, the employee survey tool that helps companies improve their corporate wellness, and have a better organizational culture.


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Supply Chain Fraud: The Threat from Within

Lindsey LaManna

Supply chain fraud – whether perpetrated by suppliers, subcontractors, employees, or some combination of those – can take many forms. Among the most common are:

  • Falsified labor
  • Inflated bills or expense accounts
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Phantom vendor accounts or invoices
  • Bid rigging
  • Grey markets (counterfeit or knockoff products)
  • Failure to meet specifications (resulting in substandard or dangerous goods)
  • Unauthorized disbursements

LSAP_Smart Supply Chains_graphics_briefook inside

Perhaps the most damaging sources of supply chain fraud are internal, especially collusion between an employee and a supplier. Such partnerships help fraudsters evade independent checks and other controls, enabling them to steal larger amounts. The median loss from fraud committed
by a single thief was US$80,000, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Costs increase along with the number of perpetrators involved. Fraud involving two thieves had a median loss of US$200,000; fraud involving three people had a median loss of US$355,000; and fraud with four or more had a median loss of more than US$500,000, according to ACFE.

Build a culture to fight fraud

The most effective method to fight internal supply chain theft is to create a culture dedicated to fighting it. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Make sure the board and C-level executives understand the critical nature of the supply chain and the risk of fraud throughout the procurement lifecycle.
  • Market the organization’s supply chain policies internally and among contractors.
  • Institute policies that prohibit conflicts of interest, and cross-check employee and supplier data to uncover potential conflicts.
  • Define the rules for accepting gifts from suppliers and insist that all gifts be documented.
  • Require two employees to sign off on any proposed changes to suppliers.
  • Watch for staff defections to suppliers, and pay close attention to any supplier that has recently poached an employee.

About Lindsey LaManna

Lindsey LaManna is Social and Reporting Manager for the Digitalist Magazine by SAP Global Marketing. Follow @LindseyLaManna on Twitter, on LinkedIn or Google+.


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Amazing Digital Marketing Trends And Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015

Sunny Popali

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends & Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015The fast-paced world of digital marketing is changing too quickly for most companies to adapt. But staying up to date with the latest industry trends is imperative for anyone involved with expanding a business.

Here are five trends that have shaped the industry this year and that will become more important as we move forward:

  1. Email marketing will need to become smarter

Whether you like it or not, email is the most ubiquitous tool online. Everyone has it, and utilizing it properly can push your marketing ahead of your rivals. Because business use of email is still very widespread, you need to get smarter about email marketing in order to fully realize your business’s marketing strategy. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can help you market more effectively, such as Mailchimp.

  1. Content marketing will become integrated and more valuable

Content is king, and it seems to be getting more important every day. Google and other search engines are focusing more on the content you create as the potential of the online world as marketing tool becomes apparent. Now there seems to be a push for current, relevant content that you can use for your services and promote your business.

Staying fresh with the content you provide is almost as important as ensuring high-quality content. Customers will pay more attention if your content is relevant and timely.

  1. Mobile assets and paid social media are more important than ever

It’s no secret that mobile is key to your marketing efforts. More mobile devices are sold and more people are reading content on mobile screens than ever before, so it is crucial to your overall strategy to have mobile marketing expertise on your team. London-based Abacus Marketing agrees that mobile marketing could overtake desktop website marketing in just a few years.

  1. Big Data for personalization plays a key role

Marketers are increasingly using Big Data to get their brand message out to the public in a more personalized format. One obvious example is Google Trend analysis, a highly useful tool that marketing experts use to obtain the latest on what is trending around the world. You can — and should — use it in your business marketing efforts. Big Data will also let you offer specific content to buyers who are more likely to look for certain items, for example, and offer personalized deals to specific groups of within your customer base. Other tools, which until recently were the stuff of science fiction, are also available that let you do things like use predictive analysis to score leads.

  1. Visual media matters

A picture really is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, and nobody can deny the effectiveness of a well-designed infographic. In fact, some studies suggest that Millennials are particularly attracted to content with great visuals. Animated gifs and colorful bar graphs have even found their way into heavy-duty financial reports, so why not give them a try in your business marketing efforts?

A few more tips:

  • Always keep your content relevant and current to attract the attention of your target audience.
  • Always keep all your social media and public accounts fresh. Don’t use old content or outdated pictures in any public forum.
  • Your reviews are a proxy for your online reputation, so pay careful attention to them.
  • Much online content is being consumed on mobile now, so focus specifically on the design and usability of your mobile apps.
  • Online marketing is essentially geared towards getting more traffic onto your site. The more people visit, the better your chances of increasing sales.

Want more insight on how digital marketing is evolving? See Shutterstock Report: The Face Of Marketing Is Changing — And It Doesn’t Include Vince Vaughn.


About Sunny Popali

Sunny Popali is SEO Director at Tempo Creative is a Phoenix inbound marketing company that has served over 700 clients since 2001. Tempos team specializes in digital and internet marketing services including web design, SEO, social media and strategy.

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Create A Culture That Doesn’t Fear Failure

JP George

A fear of failure could be holding back your business.

If the people on your team are worrying about being ridiculed or blamed for independent creativity or the downfall of an entire project, they are likely to hold back their ideas and stick to completing projects in the same way over and over again. In comparison, people who work in an office culture with no fear of failure feel free to bounce ideas around, which helps generate new practices, keep up with the times, push projects along, and can “wow” customers with innovation.

Changing the way your office works won’t happen overnight, but these five tips could begin to implement positive changes to help steer your team toward a working environment that is good for the staff and good for the business.

1. Recognize and reward

Employee recognition is the key to not fearing failure. When an employee or team member goes above and beyond; make sure they know that their hard work is appreciated and that an efficient system for providing employee recognition awards is in place. Even small things like suggesting a new way to carry out a particular process should be celebrated. If an employee, colleague, or team member has a suggestion that isn’t quite on-point, find the positive; for example, you might say, “You’re on the right lines, your idea will help speed the process up, but…” Always make sure to offer positive feedback first, then mention the thing that needs changing, and end with encouragement: “Once that’s ironed out, we can implement this — great work!”

2. Adopt a team mentality

Seems straightforward and fairly obvious for a first step, but so many companies do not know how to really generate a feeling of teamwork and inclusivity, and instead put up a front of “togetherness” while retaining the bad practices that divide a workforce. Start by calling a team meeting and setting some ground rules together. Yes, it’s a basic ice-breaking activity in almost all training sessions, but it also helps each person to display respect and hear the opinions of other members of the group. Suggest from the start that the team use “we” rather than individual pronouns when discussing projects, as it helps to dispel blame culture and reminds each person that they are all responsible for any successes and downfalls of the team.

3. Say “yes” more

When staff members and colleagues approach you with ideas and innovation, are you more likely to think “straying from the status quo is dangerous,” or are you willing to hear the person out and let their creative juices flow? Even if the first suggestion they offer is horrible, try not to say “no” outright or make the person feel bad for sharing. Try to find a way in which their idea can be incorporated, even if it has to be altered to fit the project. Saying “yes” to the inspiration and thoughts generated by staff and colleagues means that they will be likely to offer more ideas in the future, and without that openness, you might miss the next great innovation in your industry.

4. Blame less

Similarly, try to incorporate policies that encourage employee recognition rather than shame for sharing concepts. If failure does occur, do not publicly belittle the person deemed responsible, even in jest. This creates tension within the office or team and can make the person receiving the blame less likely to contribute in the future, and may even affect their personal well-being. Instead of blaming and shaming, discuss what went wrong as a group, and try to enforce the group mentality of “we could have done…” rather than “I/they/she/he did…”

5. Look for the positives

If, for any reason, your team does experience failure—and you should, otherwise you’re just not aiming high enough—try to see the positives, and discuss the issue as a group — not in cliques of us vs. them, but together discuss what the group could have done better. If a majority insist on blaming one or two people, move onto analyzing how communication channels could be opened up and ask members how inclusivity could be improved. After all, if only a few people are responsible for a project failing, the responsibility was obviously not being shared in an equal manner while the project was underway. There are positives to every situation, even if it is just the ability to improve your team dynamic.

The changes won’t happen immediately, but once the systems are in place and your staff, colleagues, and team members start to understand the goals within both the office and working environment as a whole, your employees’ creativity should start flowing and you will start hearing new suggestions regularly. Even if some don’t work well, remember to recognize employees and enjoy the rewards of your newly open and trusting workforce.

Want more employee engagement tips? See Boost Productivity With These 4 Brain Breaks.


About JP George

JP George grew up in a small town in Washington. After receiving a Master's degree in Public Relations, JP has worked in a variety of positions, from agencies to corporations all across the globe. Experience has made JP an expert in topics relating to leadership, talent management, and organizational business.

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