Monday, July 30, 2007

12 Things that I Hate about You

Seth Stevenson's 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.

  1. The Demo -- a visual demonstration of a product's capabilities. Think Ginsu.

  2. Show the need or problem (e.g., "Head-on -- apply it directly where it hurts").

  3. 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.

  4. The comparison -- Hi, I'm a PC ... and Hi, I'm a Mac.

  5. The exemplary story. For everything else, there's Mastercard.

  6. Benefit causes story. This add shows a trail of events that might be caused by the product's benefit.

  7. The "tell it" add uses a presenter or testimonial, like Lindsay Wagner pitching the Sleep Number bed.

  8. Ongoing characters and celebrities, like the Geico caveman or "Bob," the male enhancement pill fellow with the rictus grin.

  9. The symbol, analogy, or exaggerated graphic, which demonstrates the benefit of a product (e.g., the geyser, Old Faithful, becomes "regularity.").

  10. 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.

  11. The "unique personality property (e.g., with a name like Smucker's, it has to be good).

  12. 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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