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Is Your Ad Taking Gold?

Are you watching the Winter Olympics this year?

I’ve always loved the sense of national pride that comes with the Winter Olympics (and the Olympics in general). It’s a wonderful moment where regardless of political divide, we can rally together as a nation to cheer on our country.

Unfortunately, this year’s national performance hasn’t met our usual standards for excellence. According to FiveThirtyEight, the U.S. team is currently 10.8 medals below their projected medal count. With only 5 days left, I have found myself looking to the commercials for inspiration, rather than the usually spellbinding stories that unfold for our athletes.

The Olympics are without doubt a very emotional experience for the athletes, the families, and the viewers. With this heightened level of sentiment, marketers are offered a great opportunity to evoke an emotional response from their audiences.

I’ve mentioned before that the “recipe” for ads that stick comes down to some simple elements that require you know yourself and know your audience very well. Effective ads are not just entertaining.

Creative without strategy is called ‘art’. Creative with strategy is called ‘advertising’. -Jef I. Richards

The ads that get people to do more than listen display clear strategic alignment with the brand’s story. But if you want to truly stand out from the noise, you have to deeply understand your target viewer. The best ads consider exactly how they want a viewer to think, feel, and ultimately act—and they deliver.

During the Olympics, advertisers hone in on how they want their audience to feel. Ripe off the heroic stories of Olympic athletes, advertisers are smart to tug at our heartstrings.

Just take a look at the latest Toyota campaign:

Toyota:  “Start your Impossible”

In the wake of Uber and the growing momentum of self-driving cars, this ad is part of a larger push within the car industry to shift the conversation toward “mobility” — not just mobility by car. This commercial is the Olympic installment of a larger campaign, and Toyota’s take comes at the idea from a sentimental angle, with video of athletes overcoming great odds underscored by stirring music.

As human beings, we are wired to be emotional. Brands use this to create closer connections with their audience, but it’s tricky to pull off correctly. If the emotion evoking story doesn’t authentically connect with your brand, your chances of making an impactful ad aren’t good.

While sentimental, this Toyota ad sticks to the recipe of ensuring the ad ties back authentically to the overall brand. The “Start Your Impossible” campaign marks Toyota’s commitment to supporting the creation of a more inclusive and sustainable society. The fully integrated campaign also highlights Toyota’s values of hard work, overcoming challenges, and never giving up.

The Olympics aren’t the only arena where marketers shine. I recently wrote a piece for Entrepreneur where I discussed my favorite Super Bowl ads of all time and how these ads create an emotional connection with their audiences.

Check out: “The Top 3 Super Bowl Ads of All Time and Why We Still Love Them”

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