Advertising in general, and Display Ads in particular, have been in our sales and business scenario for over many decades now, and we’ve seen a lot of it. Everything from their technical evolutions, to the topics that they covered, the channels they were distributed through, and their adaptability to the different generations that came and went. Probably the only thing that has remained stable during all these years is the actual purpose that advertising campaigns shared, which was whether to get you to sell more products or position your brand in some way (which would eventually get you more sales). But now, it seems we are facing an era where Ads are just not all about sales; but why would I take out an Ad if it wasn’t for sales purposes? Well, that’s what we’ll be discussing in-depth today fellas.
Have you ever heard of coffee tonics? It’s basically a new coffee trend, whose recipe is cold brew coffee, mixed with tonic water. It’s not only that it sounds weird, but it also tastes horrible, no matter how hard people try to make it look like the new cool and fresh beverage. It’s just awful, and the worst part is that there actually are people to blame: Hipsters. Of course, hipsters would come along, and try to turn coffee into something pretentious and fashionable, because just plain coffee was not good enough for them. And the same thing happened to the advertising industry, only it was indies who came by and decided that the plain sales-oriented Ads just weren’t good enough.
I’m sure by now you must be aware of (and horrified by) the Ad that won gold at Cannes Lions, and this isn’t any other than an example of the kind of ad that is not meant to get any sales or position any brand whatsoever. In case you don’t want to put yourself through it (and I recommend you don’t), let me summarize the Ad briefly: Basically, the Ad is about a woman who works at this company and she gets pregnant, and she continues pregnant through the decades (even after her water breaks, when she refuses to go to the hospital and proceeds to wet everything for years, her co-worker’s hands included one time the bathroom was too crowded), until the day she eventually retires and goes into labor, where she gives birth to a 50-years-old man in a particularly disturbing scene. At the very end, it tells you that the Ad is about how women still have to choose whether to have a career or a family.
So, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about how women deserve their place in the industry, I just don’t think this Ad captured that at all. For starters, until the very end, you have no idea about where it is going or what it is about, I even thought it may be an adult diapers campaign because of all the wetting. Secondly, the Ad is so gross and disturbing that you don’t even end up caring at all about the message, and all that remains in your head is how uncomfortable you feel with what you just saw. Even the Cannes people had eliminated the Ad in the first round, but they brought it back in once they realized they couldn’t stop thinking about it (Well, duh! Of course, you won’t stop thinking about a 50-years-old dude coming out of a 70-years-old lady!), and they awarded it. So what does this all mean? Well, that they weren’t striving for the audience to like them, or buy stuff from them.
When a company chooses to launch an Ad campaign, they have many things to consider before building it. Whether it’ll be online or not, your Ads placements, the wording for them, their concept, among others. But most importantly, the very first thing to decide: What will the objective of the advertising campaign be? Are you launching Ads about this super cool sale that you’ll be hosting next week? Are you trying to spread a message about something? Are you striving to increase some product’s sales? Are you announcing a brand new product? Well, to this list, a new possible objective has recently been added: Are you intending to create an artsy, alternative, not-sales-oriented Ad that will get you gold at Cannes Lions?
There is one really big difference between these two types of Ads. If you are trying to get more sales, leads, or conversions, your priority will be to get people to actually like and feel attracted to your Ads. No matter how cheesy and obvious they are, your mind will be set on finding the best Ad that users just won’t be able to resist. However, if you are launching an Ad for artsy, Cannes Lions, or indie purposes, your concern won’t be if people will actually like it, but to actually follow your instincts of doing something alternative and launch a Display Ad that, even if it doesn’t get you any sales nor good publicity, you believe in. And that’s just as valid because every company has the right to choose the type of positioning and moves they want to make, but the reality is you probably can’t be both.
So the bottom line really comes down to what you want for your business. Do you want more sales, or do you want to follow your artsy instincts? Both are perfectly fine choices to make, but you won’t be able to pull them up altogether, and they’ll get you to very different places. Do you want to be the industry leader in sales, or do you want to be holding a flower bouquet and the gold prize at Cannes? Well, I believe that is your call to make. But, just as a plea to you and your team, please don’t have grown-ups coming out of retired ladies anymore.