The results are in…

On Jan 28th, I posted the following two-pronged query:

What makes a TV commercial memorable? And follow up question, is it the product you remember or just the commercial itself?

I posted this query both via this blog AND via Linked In. The response I received was overwhelming. I heard from people as far away as South Africa and Australia. Very cool.

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.”

Ok, here are now just SOME of the answers I received in their entirety and a follow up question after… so read on!

What makes a TV commercial memorable? And follow up question, is it the product you remember or just the commercial itself?

  • “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.”
  • “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.”

  • “Usually because its entertaining or amusing, but those are the ones that the commercial is more memorable than motivating me to buy the product. The Target Commercials “expect more pay less” (a little bit more) were way cool, captured the essence in a captivating, almost mesmerizing seamless way, my faves were the effort-less and autumn season. Target’s Hello-Goodbuy are pretty cool too. I already preferred Target before the ads.”
  • “I often remember ads that are funny, but not the product. I think to be memorable isn’t really the point, it is to be remembered favorably with the target audience. To do that I think of two things – a message and delivery that is right for the product and enough repetition to stick the point without making you scream. In a class on making design strategic I learned the best place to be is remarkable and relevant. One without the other is useless.”
  • “Part 1-A commercial is made memorable by making an example of circumstances people identify with in their everyday lives…triggering consiousness. Part 2-However, memorablity and effectiveness (in the aspect of increasing sale or engaging the audience) are completely different….If the commercial is memorable, I remember the commercial. If the commercial is effective, I remember the product.”
  • “Humor often makes the ad memorable. But a strong BENEFIT makes the product memorable. The classic example I always use is the old Wendy’s commercial with the old woman who said, “WHERE’S THE BEEF?” The commercial was funny, but the ad also had a strong benefit statement – Wendy’s has bigger, better burgers.”
  • “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.”
  • “Music and humor make TV spots stand out in my mind. Some jingles stay in my head for decades. If the product in a funny commercial is going to be memorable, as opposed to just the spot itselfl, it needs to be tied in appropriately, like the Windex ad where the birds fly into the glass. Obnoxious ads also stand out, but make me NOT want to buy, such as “Head On! Apply directly to the forehead!”
  • “An iconic character these days goes a long way. Progressive Flo. Geico Gekko. That Pelosi lady who tries to sell every manner of crap. Works.”
  • “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. Links: http://www.TacticalTV.com.au”

  • “Humor, a good idea with originality and sometimes a scew view of the world.”
  • “One word….JINGLE. Jingles may be cheesy, but they work. Think about it…it is not the product, it is the clever tune that people remember.”
  • “A TV commercial is memorable for a countless amount of reasons. It’s this type of approach that has made TV commercials unsuccessful, in my opinion. All commercials should focus on one thing and that’s increasing sales strength. Instead, commercials cater toward entertainment. For example: a guy standing on his head doing back flips while drinking a Bud Light is strictly entertainment. In no way am I enticed to get off my couch to buy a bud light. A TV commercial does not have to be memorable it needs to convey a USP. That way, it resonates with the specific target audience by creating an “a ha” factor. Everyone involved in the production of a commercial should approach it with this understanding.

    Take jingles for example, sure they are memorable, but just because you remember it doesn’t mean it enticed action. Jingles that convey the client’s USP are successful, in my opinion. I believe there is a misconception in today’s media. Just because everyone is talking about the commercial does not automatically mean it increased client’s sales. Success in this business should be measured by sales not publicity or “creativity.”

    To answer the second part of the the question I always remember the commercial itself and not the product. To be completely honest the majority of the commercials are a complete waste of the client’s money. I don’t buy Bud Light because someone does back flips. I buy it because I like the taste or it’s on sale. Advertising is just a sign that points the seller to the buyer. It doesn’t matter how clever your message is, it’s up the seller to uphold the promise we made to the buyer.

    Advertising and specially TV commercials can get customers in the door only one time. After that, it’s up the seller to build trust and loyalty. I think that’s the misconception of advertising. By itself it can’t single-handily increase sales.”

  • “mostly I find commercials annoying. I rarely watch TV so I’m not really a great person to make a comment. But I wanted to comment because I like your blog. 🙂 Memorable commercials are typically ones that annoy me. I hear the jingle over and over and I never want to buy the product because I’m so annoyed!
  • “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.”
  • “I am not a fan of SHOUTING on the commercial. Like FRANK selling Dish Network (or Direct??) or the Hilshire farms commercial. I know the name of the company in the commercial, but immediatly hit the mute, so I dont know the message. We they selling the meat half off? I will never know.”
  • “I remember commercials that have interesting animation, good music, or beautiful effects OR those that are really irritating. I often remember the product only more or less, eg: “it’s about butter substitutes”, but I don’t recall the product if asked. However, I often find that I am ‘attracted’ to the product, in that I notice it among its fellows on the shelf. I don’t always buy it. Buying is more closely related to whether I would buy it anyway, and how much it costs.”
  • “Great topic, right before the Super Bowl. Will we see anything memorable tomorrow? Apple’s 1984 or will they be more like the Pets.com sock puppet.”

And that leads me perfectly into my follow up query… did any, ANY of this year Super Bowl spots qualify as memorable?

Look forward to hearing from you!

Steve O

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One thought on “The results are in…

  1. well done ! N thanks for sharing, very interesting n funny toothe part i liked best is "Most TV commercials are not effective because eithera.The writer would rather be in Hollywood or…"so true !

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