Every year amid the Super Bowl and awards season, I find myself amazed at the annual ritual: people actually watch the commercials. It’s of course, an anomaly. People don’t actually like commercials. We take advantage of every opportunity to avoid them. Yet, on Super Bowl Sunday, we were attracted to creative advertising as much, or more in some cases, as we are to the game itself. Not just those of us in the advertising industry, who have a vested interest in keeping up with the Joneses, but indeed the general population tune in and relish the chance to indulge in each 30-second spot as though it was a competition. In fact, over 75% of the respondents to an Adweek poll held a favorable view of Super Bowl ads.
Whether Super Bowl ads are worth the price they fetch is debatable. One thing this high-stakes pageant does prove is how well the creative execution is done – or how poor. This has a lot to do with how successful the ads themselves are. A recent study found that “good” ads aired during the Super Bowl were likely to spur 49.8% of the audience to buy from the brand, while “bad” ads caused 69.5% of the same audience to not want to buy. So ads that employ well-crafted creative execution connect with consumers and move their needle. But why?
One theory holds that brands displayed to us in close proximity with pleasurable sensory experiences, such as laughter or exhilaration, enjoy a transfer of those positive feelings to the brand itself. Psychologists call this “Affective Conditioning”. A famous paper in the Journal of Consumer Research details a set of experiments conducted on volunteer consumers whereby the subjects were all given detailed information touting the superiority of one product over another. Some of these subjects viewed ads where the inferior product was shown along with positive imagery, and some did not. The ones that saw the ads chose the inferior product 70-80% of the time, even though they had data confirming the product was inferior. The subjects who did not see the ads chose the superior product.
When we see colors, pictures and textures that evokes positive sensory reactions wrapped around the brand, the brand itself begins to make us feel good. That’s a very important emotional construct when you consider the distracted nature of the average consumer in today’s world. We’re too busy to amass all the objective facts we need to compel us to make the right decisions. Often, we rely on our feelings to tell us if what we’re doing is right, and is likely to benefit us. When we have to choose, we’ll choose what feels right.
Of course, at the heart of a successful brand is authenticity. The product has to deliver what it promises to deliver. No amount of creativity alone can fix that promise if it’s broken. Good creative advertising makes a strong brand memorable, relatable, and likable. It allows the distracted consumer to open their heart and let that brand in because they like it. If we connect that likability the consumer feels to the values they relate to a given brand, it’s very likely they’ll grow to love that brand over time.
Feeling inspired to check out some creative advertising?