Marketing Mocktail: Work that works - Checklist for evaluating advertising explained

Effective advertising must be strategically accurate, creatively powerful, and demonstrably effective.

By  Anand NarasimhaNov 17, 2023 8:44 AM
Marketing Mocktail: Work that works - Checklist for evaluating advertising explained
The 7-point checklist helps in evaluating creative work. The Snickers campaign ticks all 7 boxes.

Note to readers: Season-2 of our column Marketing Mocktail breaks down and explains the big ideas, new disruptions and old concepts and marketing practices that matter in the modern age.

Advertisers and ad agencies are constantly evaluating creative work, be it for a one-off ad or a multimedia campaign.

The question always arises, ‘Will it work’? We use our experience, judgement, gutfeel, or pre-testing to answer this, as objectively as possible.

The 7-point checklist for evaluating advertising

Effective advertising at a broad level must be strategically accurate, creatively powerful, and demonstrably effective.

Here’s my 7-point checklist for evaluating advertising:

1. Does the advertising have a unifying brand idea based on a consumer insight?

2. Does it highlight the distinctive brand assets to create brand recognition?

3. Will it get noticed and remembered?

4. Is it simple and single-minded?

5. Does it involve and engage the prospect?

6. Will it make the prospect act?

7. Will it generate positive conversation?

The checklist is media agnostic and helps in making an informed decision on the creative work, prior to going to market.

In retrospect, let’s apply it to evaluate an existing ad campaign- for Snickers.

Snickers: ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’

From 2007 to 2009, growth for Snickers lagged other global chocolate brands. While the brand was growing marginally, its market share was declining.

Mars International and their agency BBDO were faced with the challenge of growing sales volume and market share globally, by making the brand distinctive and famous in a highly cluttered category.

Since Snickers is a wholesome and filling chocolate bar with caramel and nuts, the strategy was to position it as a ‘hunger reliever’.

1. Does the advertising have a unifying brand idea based on consumer insight?

“If your advertising does not have a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night”, to quote David Ogilvy.

The Snickers campaign was based on a powerful human insight: ‘When you’re hungry, you’re just not yourself. And, when you’re not yourself, you become cranky, weak, or dopey, that are universal symptoms of hunger.

The unifying brand idea based on the insight was, ‘"You’re not you when you’re hungry’. Snickers, the substantial, nut-filled bar known for satisfying hunger, is the perfect antidote- ‘It makes you, you again.’

The idea had legs. It could be amplified across traditional and digital media. It was also enduring and has been running for more than a decade with fresh creative executions. Over time, work has been produced for all Snickers’ key markets using a range of local contexts, celebrities and locally relevant hunger symptoms.

2. Does it highlight the distinctive brand assets to create brand recognition?

Chocolate is an impulse category. At any given purchase moment, a consumer is presented with 10+ brand options. If you want to be the brand that people reach for, you need to be immediately recognizable.

The campaign creatives leveraged the distinctive brand assets or codes to aid brand recognition- the Snickers logo (obviously), the red parallelogram around the logo, the dark chocolate pantone color and the ‘rip and chew’ pack shot.

Once these brand codes were clearly established, Snickers played around with them. Like naming their packs after ‘hunger symptoms’ to gift to your friends who were exhibiting them. Truncating the logo to ‘SNKRS’ when Snickers Mini was launched.

3. Will it get noticed and remembered?

Bill Bernbach said, “If your advertising goes unnoticed, everything else is academic.”

Memories are fragile – people are constantly on the verge of forgetting about your brand. The Snickers campaign cut through the clutter due to its universally relevant and compelling idea and refreshing creative treatment that made the campaign memorable.

The sheer variety of creatives across media and follow-up news coverage was testament to the idea’s populist appeal.

4. Is it simple and single-minded?

Great ideas are always simple ideas. The Snickers campaign was easy to understand and comprehend. The common human truth and the simplicity of communication made it ripe for widespread appeal.

The campaign was sharply focused on a singular message- ‘You’re not yourself when you are hungry and Snickers satisfies hunger to make you, you again’. The same message was constantly reinforced across every touchpoint.

5. Does it involve and engage the prospect?

In the 1960’s Howard Gossage said, People don’t read ads. They read what interests them and sometimes it’s an ad. “

The Snickers advertising created high involvement with the brand. This seemed particularly relevant, given that just about everyone buys chocolate.

In advertising, ‘how you say it’ is as important as ‘what you say’. The creative expression of the idea was rich in emotion and engagement- witty, lighthearted, and relatable with a universal appeal.

To quote Bill Bernbach, “Good advertising does not just circulate information. It penetrates the mind with desire and beliefs.”

6. Will it make the prospect act?

David Ogilvy again, “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.”

Growth for Snickers meant attracting new buyers and reminding those who may have taken a break, that it was time to have a Snickers bar again.

The campaign created a desire to consider and buy the brand. In its first full year, global sales of Snickers were up by 15.9% and market share grew in 56 of the 58 markets in which it ran.

7. Will it generate positive conversation?

Generating ‘word-of-mouth’ and ‘word-of-mouse’ is critical for any campaign.

The campaign prompted a groundswell of enthusiasm and generated incremental and unpaid media impressions, with a media value equal to 11.4 times the paid investment.

Beyond that, the advertising worked its way into popular culture appearing in political satire, memes, and tweets.

Next time you are evaluating creative work, use the 7-point checklist. Chances are that your advertising will not only work but be celebrated and loved.

Anand Narasimha is a corporate turned academician with over three decades of experience spanning Brand Marketing, Advertising, Consulting, and Teaching. He writes the column Marketing Mocktail for Storyboard18. Views expressed are personal.

First Published on Nov 17, 2023 6:06 AM

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