Seth Stevenson's Slate.com article, There are 12 Kinds of Ads in the World, provides a useful framework around which all advertisements are broken down into twelve basic types. The categories are the work of advertising executive Donald Gunn. The Slate article also features a slide show, which highlights each advertising format and provides a related video link. You can't get away from the advertisements, though -- you have to disable pop-up blocking from Slate to get the navigation bar of the slideshow to appear.
- The Demo -- a visual demonstration of a product's capabilities. Think Ginsu.
- Show the need or problem (e.g., "Head-on -- apply it directly where it hurts").
- A symbol, analogy or exaggerated graphic to represent the problem. The cited example was of a guy who couldn't pass a football through a tire -- until, that is, he took some Levitra.
- The comparison -- Hi, I'm a PC ... and Hi, I'm a Mac.
- The exemplary story. For everything else, there's Mastercard.
- Benefit causes story. This add shows a trail of events that might be caused by the product's benefit.
- The "tell it" add uses a presenter or testimonial, like Lindsay Wagner pitching the Sleep Number bed.
- Ongoing characters and celebrities, like the Geico caveman or "Bob," the male enhancement pill fellow with the rictus grin.
- The symbol, analogy, or exaggerated graphic, which demonstrates the benefit of a product (e.g., the geyser, Old Faithful, becomes "regularity.").
- Associated user imagery, which showcases the type of people it hopes you'll associate with a product. Somehow, I don't think that "Bob," the male enhancement pill fellow with the rictus grin, is what they have in mind with this one; they probably mean cool, beautiful people wearing cool, beautiful jeans.
- The "unique personality property (e.g., with a name like Smucker's, it has to be good).
- The parody or borrowed format -- ads that parody movies, TV shows or other ads, such as parodies of that Ginsu commercial.
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