Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Who creates Advertisements?

(All of the information in today's posting is from "The New Icons?: The Art of Television Advertising", which is available for $.01!)

Sometimes we watch advertisements that are either so bad or so good, that we wonder how they were created. There are actually a lot of people that come together to create ads. You probably know, or think you know, them if you've ever seen an episode of "Mad Men". Beyond the creative team and the corporate team, often the ads are screened for small test audiences, re-shot, screened again and then shown to the company for final approval. In all there are usually at least 10 creative people, 10 corporate/marketing people and 100 audience members who see ads before they are aired. This probably makes you wonder how ads making flippant suicide references about laid-off workers get on the air. But, they do:

So who are the driving forces behind an ad? Here are the most important three people:

Creative Director

This is Jon Hamm's Don Draper character, as seen above. The creative director is the primary figure working on an advertisement. He or she is in charge of the final quality of a work. The creative director works with the company who wants the ad made in order to understand what it is the company wants, in terms of strategy and branding. The creative director initiates and stimulates creative ideas, and oversees the following the art director and copywriter. Often it is the creative director who has the "big idea" for the ad, which the art director and copywriter put into practice.

Art Director and Copywriter
An art director often works in tandem with a copywriter, and together with the creative director they make up the "creative" department of an advertising agency. Sometimes this is the job of only one person. The copywriter does all of the writing for ads. This usually means writing dialogue and slogans. The art director is in charge of all visual aspects of the ad.

Often an advertising agency will then contract out the work of actually producing the ad. The producer oversees all of these elements. So this includes hiring directors to shoot the ad, finding studio space, hiring the actors/director etc. The producer then sees the ad through until its finished, while the "creative" side has already moved on to the agency's next project.

One of the most famous and brilliant ads of all time is Macintosh's "1984" ad, which was shown during the Super Bowl in 1984. The ad showed the coming of the Macintosh as a way to save humanity from "Big Brother" in a spoof of George Orwell's novel "1984". The ad agency who created the ad was Chiat/Day. The creative director was Lee Clow. Brent Hayden was the art director and the copywriter was Steve Hayden. They then used the production company "Fairbanks Films" as their producer, who then brought in acclaimed Director Ridley Scott to actually shoot the advertisement. So you can see how many people already are involved in the ad, before screening, casting, board approval etc. Together they all created this:

The ad has won many awards, including being named by TV Guide in 1999 as the best television advertisement of all-time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Purpose of Ads

Why do company's create advertisements? People seem to believe that the purpose is to make the public aware of a service, product etc, with the presumed intention of selling that product. I'm basing on the comments I've received on this blog. That is absolutely true. However, if that was the only purpose ads would simply consist of a company's name, a product name and maybe some other info against a blank screen. As you may recall from my first post, this actually was all the first television advertisement was. So why have they evolved to what they are today?

Ehow.com has a good list of the "purposes". So other than inducing someone to purchase a product, what other intentions do the creators of ads have in mind? I don't think it is too much of a stretch to say that we live in a cynical society. Most people who see an ad are well-aware that they are trying to be influenced to buy something. Personally, this awareness alone makes me defensive when watching an ad (almost as if I actively won't buy something that I see an advertisement for). Thus, since I am not watching ads to be told what to buy, the main thing I am looking for in ads is how the ad effects the brand. As I have stated previously, negative brand association is too-often the outcome of an advertisement. Brand association is closely related to "Adding Value" on ehow's list.

With an eye to that list, what do you think the most important purpose of an ad is?

(Sorry there was no chastising of poor ads today).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Advertising Can't Save You From Poor Branding

Have you ever seen an ad on television that you were sure was the beginning of a Saturday Night Live skit? (Warning: link NSFW). Then you realize it is actually an advertisement, and you are left sort of dumbfounded. This situation struck me recently when I saw the following advertisement

These are delicious.
I cannot think of a cookie with a less appetizing name than "Praeventia". Cookies are suppose to have yummy names, like Chips Ahoy and Dad's . Why they chose to name it after the Greek goddess of contraception is beyond me. What I do know is that the name does not awake my appetite.

The ad itself though is fine. In fact, if they never mentioned the brand name, it would be a very good ad. I'm made aware its a family-oriented cookie bar, which is healthier than most cookies. The "poor mommy" part is a bit corny, but overall a well-done ad.

The point here then is that advertising is not enough on its own. This is especially the case since traditional advertisements' effectiveness diminish each year. The best advertising in the world is not going to make someone want to eat a Praeventia cookie. 

The best advertisements are those which work off of a brand's image, which includes its name. They are a combination of marketing research, brand trustworthiness and creative advertising.

So let me throw it to the readers: does anybody want to eat a Praeventia cookie? Does the name not matter at all? Is the decent advertisement and product enough?