The Mad Men’s Guide To Advertising

When I saw this post on Ad Age, for the “retro” ads in this weeks  Newsweek, anticipating the season premiere of Mad Men, it made me think about the Don Draper in all of us who work in marketing, advertising and web design. It made me rethink the question of what makes an ad successful, or what makes a web site convert visitors to customers. I think the principles by which those things happen were the same in the 60’s as they are today. Here are a few tried and true tips to creating successful visuals either for print or the web, Mad Men style…

  1. Art Before AdsPeople are barraged daily with marketing messages of all kinds. A variety of credible sourcesranging from Consumer Reports to independent University reports state that we are saturated in anywhere from 300-3000 ads daily. How much of this do we actually process i.e think about afterwards? It is hard to determine since most advertising works on a subconscious level, where people will remember the brand even if they are not aware of it in that initial moment.What this boils down to is if you want to be truly and acutely remembered make ads from the point of view of over-saturation, that is to say, make art instead of ads, something that is striking instead of mundane, unique instead of redundant, engaging as opposed to easily skimmed through. You just might have a chance at being remembered!

    Can you remember the first ad campaign that really stuck with you? Why do you remember it so well? For me it was Tom Ford’s line of clothing for Gucci—he used the iconic Madonna as one of his model s and he turned an advertisement for slacks and a blouse into something magical and ethereal, one that people still talk about almost 20 years later. We can’t all have the budgets that Tom Ford/Gucci had but we still have the power of creativity and imagination on any budget.

  2. Make People HappyOnly Mr. Draper can explain this adage, which is best described using the example from how he spun a cigarette ad from something poisonous into something perceived to bring happiness.Don Draper: This is the greatest advertising opportunity since the invention of cereal. We have six identical companies making six identical products. We can say anything we want. How do you make your cigarettes?
    Lee Garner, Jr.
    : I don’t know.
    Lee Garner, Sr.
    : Shame on you. We breed insect repellant tobacco seeds, plant them in the North Carolina sunshine, grow it, cut it, cure it, toast it…
    Don Draper
    : There you go. There you go.
    [Writes on chalkboard and underlines: “IT’S TOASTED.”]
    Lee Garner, Jr.
    : But everybody’s else’s tobacco is toasted.
    Don Draper
    : No. Everybody else’s tobacco is poisonous. Lucky Strikes’… is toasted. [i][ii]
  3. Define A Problem Be The SolutionThink of how many “problems” the average American faces in their daily lives. Everything from unpleasant odors in their homes, gunk in their gas tank, to no room in their garages. The list is endless. The trick to successfully marketing and selling a product is to create a habit in consumers based on a solution to a problem they are currently experiencing.  In a totally engrossing look at human habits, Charles Duhigg author of “The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business” shows us an example of how Febreeze spray went from flop product to billion dollar a year in sales. It was all in how it was presented to the consumer.“Marketers at Procter & Gamble study videos of people making their beds. They are desperately trying to figure out how to sell a new product called Febreze, on track to be one of the biggest flops in company history. Suddenly, one of them detects a nearly imperceptible pattern—and with a slight shift in advertising, Febreze goes on to earn a billion dollars a year.” –excerpt from “The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg

    What is that pattern? Well, you’ll have to read the book, but I’ll give you a hint – it has to do with a certain smell…

    The point here is if you can create advertising that clearly states a problem, your product and what the consumer will gain from buying that product, you are sure to have a winning ad campaign, if you have defined the right problem that is!

Kimberly Clark is a Content Strategist who enjoys helping clients navigate through web marketing,  Louisville and beyond.  From branding to PPC Marketing, she has a deep understanding of the tools of the trade.  Kimberly is also a data fiend and uses it to develop unique, original and interesting web content that keeps visitors engaged and interacting. She works at: 


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