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4 Types of Advertising

Campaigns that Sell

If your company is not using one or
more of these techniques, The James
Group already knows—your marketing
is underperforming.

by James Connor, CEO of The James Group

In the history of the world, there have Why is this so important? Fortunately, it is never too late to fix this
only been four types of advertising problem by creating a new campaign
If your company is not using one or
campaigns that both build brands and based on time-tested best practices.
more of these techniques, The James
drive sales. They are: This article will demonstrate how your
Group already knows—your marketing
company can use these techniques to
1 A WORD HOOK is underperforming.
improve your marketing results using
Actually, we’re being polite. Look at examples from large budget advertising
2 A CHARACTER HOOK a company’s website or a single print ad. campaigns you will easily recognize and
If at least one of these techniques is lower budget marketing campaigns that
not present, you can be certain of two have proved successful for small and
4 A CONSISTENT BRAND LAYOUT things: 1) That company isn’t getting midsized companies.
return on investment on their marketing
To improve your marketing, you need
spend. 2) The CEO and CFO are un-
Without exception, the most popular to gain several levels of understand-
happy about it.
and most successful advertising cam- ing: 1) Why these types of campaigns
paigns have used one of these techniques These principals hold true whether are essential. 2) How each campaign
or combined several of these techniques, you do business-to-business, business- type functions. 3) How to isolate the
making them well-documented best to-consumer, or even business-to-gov- sales moment. 4) When to change your
practices in creating ad campaigns. ernment marketing and regardless of the campaign.
size of your marketing budget.

Why These Types of Advertising Campaigns are Essential

A brand is a set of visual and verbal a blink, looking for a handle to process morning?
images that combine to convey a single the information. Without a handle, they
Did the information come to you in
mental image. The company name, are most likely to reject the marketing
words or pictures? You saw a picture of
logo, tagline, and campaignable image piece by simply moving on to some-
your breakfast; for example, a picture of
all come together in one mental image thing else.
the bowl of cereal or cup of coffee,
at key consumer touchpoints.
These four types of advertising cam- before your mind said, “cereal, coffee.”
When a target customer sees your web- paigns first function as handles, or en- What did you wear yesterday? Your
site, print ad, TV ad, brochure, direct tering points, that allow information to mind is searching in pictures (even
mail piece, or hears your radio spot, it be processed quickly. Because informa- when you can’t remember).
may be the first time that person is en- tion can be transmitted, a sales proposi-
The same thing happens when people
countering your brand or product. The tion can be made. If the proposition is
are making purchasing decisions.
average American encounters between compelling, a sale can be driven. But all
Mental images flip by in little movies at
300-3,000 advertising impressions per this starts with a campaign handle.
blinding speed. What company should
day, depending on which study you
The second reason these campaign types I hire? Or what brand should I buy? By
believe and how you define an impres-
are essential is they create powerful using one of these four campaignable
sion. But one thing is certain, people are
mental images. Understanding mental ideas, you create a higher probability
bombarded by too much information
images is the link between branding and your company or product will be re-
every day.
sales. Consider how your mind works. membered.
So, what will they do? They’ll scan it in What did you have for breakfast this
How Each Campaign Type Functions
Campaign Type 1:


The word hook is a repeatable catch Another word hook is Mastercard’s mand 58% of the market?
phrase from ad to ad. Great examples “Priceless” campaign created by Mc-
The word hook is like the chorus of a
of advertising campaigns using the Cann Erickson. Since 1997, MasterCard
good pop song. They are catchy. Maybe,
word hook include Verizon’s “Can you has added new U.S. credit cards at more
even insidious. Everybody knows how
hear me now?” created by Bozell/New than twice Visa’s rate.
to play along. The triumph of a great
York to convince the world Verizon has
Perhaps the longest running word hook marketing catch phrase, is when it
the best network.
with more than 1,500 ads comes from becomes so well known, it additionally
How effective was it? Consider that in Absolut. Conceived by TBWA in 1980, can serve as a cultural joke.
July of 2003, a J.D. Power & Associates the well-known ads feature images
In a televised debate before the 1984
survey ranked Verizon at the top of the based on the bottle’s distinctive shape
New York and Pennsylvania presidential
list for wireless quality, while Alltel was with the word hook running at the bot-
primaries, Walter Mondale dismissed
ranked number seven—even though tom, like Absolut Manhattan featuring
Gary Hart by saying “When I hear your
they share the same network through a and arial view of Central Park in the
new ideas I’m reminded of that ad,
nationwide roaming agreement. Alltel shape of the bottle.
‘Where’s the beef?’” The line drew a
CEO Scott Ford explained this point to
How effective were the ads? In 1999, great audience response. The point is,
investors at the Smith Barney Citigroup
Absolut commanded an amazing 58% over twenty years later, you are more
conference in January of 2004, com-
market share for vodka—an alcohol likely to remember “Where’s the beef?”
menting that the ranking difference
that is defined as colorless, tasteless, and than Gary Hart or Walter Mondale.
could only be explained by advertising
odorless. Wouldn’t you like to com-

WORD HOOK EXAMPLES by The James Group:

Anatomy of a Business-to-Business Campaign Anatomy of a Business-to-Consumer Campaign

WQIS “Strange Things Happen” GarageTek, “Find Yourself in the World’s
Cleanest Garage”
Purpose: To remind the marine community why it was so Purpose: To position remodling the garage as a home im-
essential to not jump ship to lower priced, less experienced provement decision appealing to women.
Campaign Type: Word Hook, “Find your __ in the world’s
Campaign Type: Word Hook, “Strange things happen” Con- cleanest garage.” Repeatable Theme, things happening in
sistent Layout, using blue duotone and repeatable theme of the garage. Consistent Layout, featuring handwritten copy,
incidents that happen every day on the water. garage panorama in the upper third, close-up shots of prod-
uct at bottom and the signature GarageTek yellow line.
Result: Reversed sales slide and WQIS outdistanced its
competition. Five years later, WQIS is 10 times larger than Result: GarageTek became the undisputed market leader
its closest competitor. in garage organizing systems and grew sales three-fold in
three years.
Campaign Type 2:


A character hook uses a hero, villain, great product dependability, created by think about. Few people, enjoy facing
or victim to embody a key attribute of the Leo Burnett Agency in 1967. The the fact that they could die at any time.
a brand. Great heroic character hooks campaign helped build the company So buying life insurance is not a feel
include Ronald McDonald, a hero of into the juggernaut sold to Maytag’s ri- good experience. However, people like
happiness created in 1963. Ronald val, the Whirlpool Corporation in 2006 Snoopy. By using Snoopy, people like
helped McDonald’s to own family fast for $1.6 Billion. Metlife, making the company more
food. How effective was this character? approachable than other insurers.
Characters are tremendous for break-
Consider that 96% of school children
ing through advertising clutter and How well did it work? Today, MetLife is
in the United States can identify Ronald
establishing emotional connections with the largest U.S. life insurer, by a wide
McDonald. Only Santa Claus is more
customers. They are vivid, intriguing, margin. It is also the number-one pro-
commonly recognized.
and cause us to care about them. If you vider of property and casualty insur-
A villain, savvy customers find appeal- care about a character, then you care ance (P&C) products in the workplace.
ing, is Joe Isuzu, the sneaky car salesman about the brand. Meaning, the character hook worked for
created by Della Femina, Travisano and both their business-to-consumer and
Ever wonder, what Snoopy has to do
Partners in 1985. Joe was later brought business-to-business side.
with life insurance? Only emotional
back into action in 2001.
transference. Buying life insurance is
The Maytag Repairman is a victim of something people would rather not


Anatomy of a Business-to-Consumer Campaign Anatomy of a Business-to-Consumer Campaign

Transparent Value Blockheads
Purpose: To personalize how the first fundamental da- Purpose: To differentiate Blockheads Burritos from other
tabase works to assist smart investment decisions. Mexican places as the fun place to go with friends.

Campaign Type: Word Hook, “We know how many __ Campaign Type: Character Hook, using sock mon-
______ has to sell to justify it’s stock price.” Character keys with adult life stories, resembling friends you know.
Hook, following a single analyst (the character) through Repeatable Theme, different sock monkeys with different
his day as he gets these answers. Consistent Layout, stories.
featuring the Transparent Value logo as the window to
look through for answers. Result: On rebranding alone, after 12-years of business,
without external advertising, systemwide sales jumped
Result: Launching 3rd quarter, 2006. 20% on existing stores. Also sold new franchises and
opened new company stores.
Campaign Type 3:


A repeatable theme is a situation that Patty ads created by Cliff Freeman. Repeatable themes make the target
plays out again and again calling out customer feel like they have the inside
Consumers know the punch line that
the need for a company’s product. track. They know how to play along and
is coming. They love to see the set-up
thus feel connected to your brand.
Examples of a repeatable theme include played out in different situations. It is
the Got Milk ads created by Lowe satisfying to be in on the joke, before
Worldwide and the York Peppermint it comes.


Anatomy of a Business-to-Business Campaign Anatomy of a Business-to-Consumer Campaign

Corbis Insurance Services ThinkFun
Purpose: To differentiate and draw attention to a minor- Purpose: To show that everyone plays mind challenging
ity-owned insurance broker and demonstrate they are games, and not focus on a particular age group.
more creative with the coverages they provide.
Campaign Type: Repeatable Theme. The games are so
Campaign Type: Repeatable Theme, making images interesting, even animals are interested in them.
out of Corbis Business Cards.
Result: Increased sales 15% in the first year, and proved
Result: Won major Fortune 1000 business, including key in helping client win a tremendous retail partner. In
Nike and Harmon International, and government busi- 2004, Barnes and Noble put a Thinkfun Center in over 360
ness including the St. Louis Airport. In 6 months, com- stores throughout the United States.
pany merged with Aon.
Campaign Type 4:

A consistent layout uses a unique, de- Consistent layouts include Apple’s iPod the crowd and keeping your trademark
sign look and repeats these elements at ads with silhouetted dancers people on design going on everything.
each touchpoint. This allows custom- bright backgrounds. Created by TBWA
But more importantly, consistent layout
ers to easily identify your company in a Chiat Day, the iconic ads helped make
serves a deeper purpose. Consistency
blink. The more distinct these elements the iPod the number one MP3 player in
instills trust. When a company plants
are from your competitors, the easier it the world and helped Apple extend its
its flag around one design look and feel,
is to stand out from the clutter. brand from a computer company to a
customers feel comfortable with that
consumer electronics company.
Great examples of consistent layout in- brand faster and longer. In an uncertain
clude the Continental ads, with the blue One of the keys to the consistent layout world, the consumer’s deep desire for
globe, yellow trim, and white all caps is to zig where everyone else is zag- something they can consistently count
headline. NW Ayer put that design on ging. If everyone one else is corporate on, is soothed by a consistent layout.
everything from print ads to bag tags to blue, you want to be another color.
cocktail napkins and helped Continen- If everyone else is playful design, you
tal become the number one airline in want to go serious. Consistent design
the world, as well as the most profitable. is about consciously standing out from


Anatomy of a Business-to-Business Campaign Anatomy of a Business-to-Consumer Campaign

Roundhouse Clearlight Mortgage

Purpose: To position Roundhouse as the fashionable Purpose: To take the fear out of the complicated mort-
warehouse technology partner for fashion companies. gage process.

Campaign Type: Consistent Layout, orange duo-tones Campaign Type: Repeatable Theme, happy people once
that are highly differentiated from competitors. Repeat- the mortgage puzzle has been solved for them. Consis-
able Theme, showing images of shopping (the retail tent layout, showing headlines emerging from code, dem-
business) and explaining the way Roundhouse could onstrating how Clearlight mortgage solves the mortgage
improve the business. process.

Result: After 10-years of business, the campaign dou- Result: Successfully transitioned company from original
bled the business in eight weeks. Became the preferred brand facing trademark conflict. Uncovered niche in first
EDI supplier for JC Penny and Sears. time mortgages to grow business.
How to Isolate the Sales Moment
Without question, every company moment.” There are dozens of things your favor, you triangulate the list of
needs to have one of these campaign you can say about a company or a customer desires, with your strategic
types. Even when not doing major product, but only the sales moment advantages, and the exploitable weak-
advertising, these techniques are neces- truly makes the sale. The sales moment nesses of the competition. This helps
sary on the website, brochure, or direct is the single mental image that satisfies you to identify the unique sales mo-
mail piece, due to how people intake the customer’s unmet need. When your ment that you can own. The ownable
and remember information. Remember, company or product matches up with sales moment is one your competitors
these campaigns provide a handle for a little movie of an unmet need that is can’t easily steal, and one that your cus-
your company. But what campaign to playing in the target customer’s mind, tomers want, and one you can deliver.
use and what should it be based on? a sale is quickly made. This is what you want to build your ad
campaign on. From there, you investi-
Build the campaign out of the “sales Consider GarageTek’s key to success.
gate which campaign type most clearly
The husband comes to wife and says,
and most memorably tells that story.
“I want to remodel the garage, so we
Then investigate which design best gets
can have a cool garage to work on the
people’s attention while conveying the
car and do our projects in.” Exciting to
brand’s attributes.
him, but no sale.
The James Group founded its brand
If the husband comes to the wife and
positioning and full-service advertis-
says, “I want to remodel the garage, to
ing agency on these well-documented
get the stuff off the floor and hanging
principles in 1996 and has produced
on the wall, so we can have the world’s
an enviable 95% success rate in pro-
cleanest garage.” She hears: clean,
viding ROI on marketing spend for
garage. It matches a little movie of an
clients. Each campaign The James
unmet need in her mind and she wants
Group creates goes through a detailed
the world’s cleanest garage.
process to correctly identify the sales
Great marketers, like great meditators, moment. This process includes identify-
see how the human mind works. Before ing customer desires through one-on-
every decision you have ever made, one customer interviews, identifying
especially purchasing decisions, a little strategic advantages through interviews
movie in your mind played of what you with management, and determining the
wanted to gain from this decision. If the exploitable weaknesses of the com-
marketing signals matched your little petition by studying their marketing.
movie of an unmet need, you went for This way the sales moment is properly
it. If not, you passed. So how do you identified before expensive marketing
isolate the sales moment? To develop a mistakes occur.
single brand position that tilts sales in

When To Change Your Campaign

You change your advertising campaign the ownable sales moment hasn’t been because the ownable sales moment
only when the current one isn’t grow- correctly identified. Then because one has shifted due to changes in the
ing sales to achieve established goals. of the four campaign techniques haven’t marketplace. When necessity dictates,
If your advertising is not working, been used. Meaning, if you are using companies must change their message.
change it. If your sales are no longer one of these techniques and you’re still
The key is to let sales be the sole indica-
growing, change it. not experiencing great results, then you
tor if a campaign is working or not.
haven’t correctly identified your sales
However, don’t keep throwing things This means don’t change your advertis-
moment. And of course, quality
against the wall, waiting for something ing campaign because you are bored.
of design execution is always a factor.
to stick. Be strategic. Advertising cam- One of the saddest things in marketing
paigns most often fail simply because Another reason sales stop growing is is to watch successful companies change
their ad campaigns because they are the bank and find a hobby other than rest is history.
bored, want something new, or they your marketing for entertainment.
Bottom line. Identify an ownable sales
think their customers want something
It is also interesting to note, from moment, use one of these four
new. Let sales determine this.
1987 to 1997, MasterCard tried five types of advertising campaigns and
Absolut wisely ran 26 years before advertising campaigns—and failed to you will have the greatest chance of
changing their campaign when their narrow the gap with Visa. When Mc- marketing success.
market share started to diminish in Cann created the “Priceless” campaign
2005. Nike has run variations of the another spot actually tested better. But
Just Do It campaigns since 1982. Conti- they knew they had correctly identified
nental has been running the blue globe the sales moment in “Priceless” and
ads for over a decade. They are prob- that they were using best practices in
ably all very bored. Laugh all the way to advertising with the word hook. The


James Connor is a brand expert and CEO of The James Group, a brand position-
ing and full-service advertising agency in New York City. If you agree with this best
practice and would like to discuss a new advertising campaign image for your
company or product, please contact James at
or call 212-243-2022 ext. 303.

19 West 21st Street, Suite 202

New York, NY 10010
phone: 212-243-2202 ext. 303