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September 2, 2010
Why Good Ads Are Often Loved and Hated

No matter how great the ad or how strong the emotional appeal, an ad cannot appeal to every person. Ads are subjective -- like music or art -- and some will love certain styles and messages, while others will hate the exact same ad. That is a great problem to have. If your ads are not loved by some and hated by others, your ads probably are worthless. They have been created with the intent to appeal to everyone, which means they will actually appeal to no one.


Different people prefer different things. No one is the same; therefore, no one ad can appeal to everyone. By watering down the message, making it mainstream and inoffensive, the ad will not be strong enough to connect with anyone.


In his book "On Airs, Waters and Places," Hippocrates determined there are four kinds of people: sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, and melancholic. Modern psychology refers to them as expressive, amiable, driver, and analytical. We like to use advertising terms to describe them: headline, body copy, illustration, and logo.

Headline: skims the headlines, doesn’t read the details, makes rapid decisions and quickly assesses the situation, is focused and driven, and has no time to waste.


Body copy: needs all the details, researches for extra information, reads the fine print, and occasionally suffers from analysis paralysis.


Illustration: wants to look good, needs to know how it's going to make them look, usually focused on awards and recognition, and likes the newest, best, and brightest.


Logo: values team buy-in, wants to ensure no one’s feelings are hurt, and focuses on “we."


There is no way one ad can appeal to each type. If you try to create an ad that will appeal equally to each, you definitely will connect with none of them. You can’t write a song that appeals equally to country, rock, pop, and rap lovers. If you Frankenstein a song with equal parts of each, it will be awful. If you make a movie to appeal to the fans of romantic comedies, cartoons, horror, action, and documentaries, it will be terrible. Advertisers fail most often when trying to appeal to everyone.


You have target your message, style, and delivery so that the spot will connect with a specific audience. You will know you have succeeded when some people love the spot and others hate it. By creating a series of different ads that connect to different types of people, you would appeal to everyone.

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Jaci Russo is a co-founder and senior partner of The Russo Group, a national branding agency located in Lafayette, LA. She is a brand strategist with experience including strategic planning, consumer insight, brand management, national product launches, and media management for clients in a cross section of industries. She speaks to organizations across the country on the power of branding, changing the conversation, message training, and how to brand through social media.

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