Safety and Creativity in Advertising

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Creativity just naturally goes with advertising, right?

Well, not necessarily. A post by Tom Denari at Advertising Age takes a fun look at how some marketing professionals might have initially reacted to the now cornerstone successful Chick-fil-A “EAT MOR CHIKN” advertising campaign.

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In the process, Denari also discusses how important it is for advertisers to think outside of the box and explore new ideas. The “EAT MOR CHIKN” campaign is just one example of applying a unique idea to marketing a product.

While a few advertisers do an outstanding job of creating original ads that are also effective at selling, many rely on tired formulas that do little more than bore the viewer (or reader, or listener).

If you don’t believe me, consider this–have you ever noticed how all used car commercials on TV tend to look pretty much the same? It is as though someone once, long ago, created a used car advertisement script and every used car dealer since has been using it–they are playing it “safe” by applying the same tired old formula.

But, safe just doesn’t work when it comes to selling product. Do you ever actually listen to a used car advertisement on television? Me either.

Getting the attention of your target audience is a must before a sale can be made. Safe rarely attracts that audience attention that is needed to instigate an action. (To be fair, of course sometimes highly creative ads fail to sell product too.)

Admittedly, most used car sales advertising is probably low budget. Many dealerships may not use an agency to produce their ads at all. Many probably do most of the creative work themselves. Still, as class, used car advertisements provide the perfect example of an irritating commercial–and irritation doesn’t usually sell product.

Sadly, some advertising agencies (who should know better) do the same sort of thing (in a more subtle way). They experience success with one advertisement so they try to turn it in to a formula for other products. This lack of creativity and thinking outside of the box doesn’t help the client or the potential customer.

In today’s recessionary environment, where it’s harder than ever to sell products and services, it’s important for advertisers and public relations agencies to go beyond the “safe” approach and think outside of the box.

Can you think of any other examples of either formula advertising or out-of-the-box advertising? Does your agency rely on similar strategies to sell different products?

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