It’s not complicated.
That’s the name of the AT&T campaign that’s captured the hearts of social media minded consumers across America. At a family gathering this weekend, the campaign was a big topic of conversation.
“It’s not complicated” is also a truism. You can apply several things they do to your own marketing to improve its memorability and effectiveness.
Have a bunch of variations on the same theme. When you uncover your core message, find a million ways to share it. Cute ads get noticed, but they also wear out more quickly.With Motel 6, we always knew that Bodett guy was going to say Motel 6 would give you a clean, comfortable room for the lowest price of any national chain, and we knew they’d leave the light on for us. Everything else was random and strange and somehow related. That’s what AT&T does. They’ve shot at least a dozen of these ads. Have more ads more often that are variations on your company’s theme or themes.
Spend enough to make sure your message gets tied to your company name. As a golden rule, if you use children in your ads, they should help sell the product because we remember the kids more than the product or service. AT&T was insistent the kids didn’t come across as shills – which is admirable but also a limiting factor. AT&T overcame that limiting factor with cash. In 2012, AT&T was the top advertiser in America – spending $1.59 BILLION dollars. They’ve paid to make sure we see these ads dozens of times so, eventually, we actually associate the cute kid ads with AT&T. For months, I referred to them as the cute kid ads, but I couldn’t tell you who they were for. Could you at first? But now, I’ve seen enough of them, I have built the mental bridge between speed, cuteness, and fun to AT&T.
If you use humor, don’t wink at your jokes. One of my ginormous pet peeves is writers and producers fearing you won’t get how clever they are, so they telegraph the humor. The host of the Complicated ads, Beck Bennett,plays a great straight man. For the most part, he’s perfectly content to let the kids get the great lines, but he moves the ads forward. He does a great job – as does the producing agency BBDO – of trusting that we’ll get the humor. You can do the same. If you’re going to write funny:
- Make sure it’s actually funny.
- Trust your audience to get it.
- Make sure the humor is tied into the sales message.
Unscripted can work wonders… if you’re patient. According to an Adweek story, each shooting session takes about two hours and, though guided by Bennett, they’re generally made up of improvised play by the kids. We love to put both our clients and our clients’ customers in their ad campaigns, but we have to be patient in our interviews to wait and wade through the stuff they think we want to hear to dig for the one story so great we never could have written it. You’ll know them when you get them… you just have to wait and listen.
Make it easy to share your ads. I think the first Complicated ad I saw was via Facebook. People share the things they love… if they can find them. The other day, I saw a great feature story on ESPN, and I couldn’t find a link anywhere to share it. I reached out to ESPN on twitter and got no response. I researched who produced the piece and tweeted them and got not response. #FAIL! Do you have your little bits of persuasive cuteness available on your website so your adoring fans can share your message for you… for free?
Remember that you’ll usually get sick of your ad campaign loooooooong before consumers do. I bet lots of people at AT&T are sick of this campaign. They’re sick of their friends imitating it. They’re sick of catch phrase lines. They’re sick of people doing their best boom face. Tough. The aforementioned Motel 6 radio campaign started in 1986, and it’s still running. Once you’re onto something that works for you, head back up to the top of this list and start over.
Follow these few tips and your ad campaign may improve by a factor of infinity times infinity. Boom.