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With the holidays upon us, there’s no shortage of favorite holiday ads out there. Usually these ads are emotionally driven, with people picking favorites based on what they think is funny or cute.
While it’s tempting to pick ads that make you feel good, I’m going to suggest that funny, tear-jerking or cute is not enough.
Yes, ads should be memorable. Yes they should stir up emotion in the audience. I’m not knocking that aspect of advertising. But I do think that many ads that people “like” actually don’t make for great advertising.
It seems many brands are going so hard on “storytelling” (even going so far as to call their ads “films”), that they’ve lost their way a bit.
So what can we learn from what some of the big notable brands are doing?
Ad Quality is Declining
Take Apple for example. Even a brand known for great design and advertising has fallen off their A-game. Last season Apple created a “film” called Saving Simon about a young girl trying to save a snowman. It got a lot of attention in the advertising industry and was held up as a great ad because it told an emotional story.
But while storytelling might be interesting, it does little good for the brand if the story isn’t connected somehow to the brand. In the case of Apple, the audience can’t even tell who/what the ad is for until a random Apple logo appears at the end.
It’s a lost opportunity and a weak ad in terms of building equity for the Apple brand.
In contrast, there’s one brand that stands above the crowd by telling stories where the product is an integral part of the story.
Chevy Holiday Ads—the Cream of the Crop
Yes, you heard me right. Chevy is making some of the best advertising of late.
Last year, Chevy told an emotional story about a man who lost his wife and was struggling a bit during the holidays. His daughter decides to take his Chevy—one that holds many memories of the father and his lost love—to town and enlist the community’s help in refurbishing it.
It’s not only a compelling story, but reinforces throughout that the Chevy brand stands for all-American values, family and community.
Not resting on their laurels, Chevy outdid themselves this year. They released a new heartwarming holiday ad called Mrs. Hayes that shows how a classic Chevy is an integral part of many of the most significant moments in a woman’s life.
The values of family, love, community, and connection to the past come through loud and clear. And in the long cut they even manage to work in an appearance by the new all-electric Blazer—a nod to the future.
Even if you don’t like Chevy cars, you can’t help but be left with the impression that Chevy is an enduring brand that’s woven into the fabric of American life.
No other car brand is making advertising like this.
The Starting Point for Great Advertising
If you want great advertising, the starting point is always a great creative brief. Then the strategy and creative teams must work together to be sure that the final execution delivers the desired belief/feeling from that brief.
Without a great brief, you are rolling the dice with your creative and agency teams. And without great execution, you risk wasting even the greatest of briefs.
If you want to sharpen your or your team’s brief-writing skills, you might be interested in our on-demand course, How to Write a Powerful Creative Brief. In it you get the teaching, templates, and real-world examples to take your brief writing to the highest of levels.
It’s also a great way to use up your remaining “use it or lose it” budget before the calendar year turns over.
Whether you take the course or not, I challenge you to make great work in 2023. Not just work you like, but work that builds brand equity and sells.
Here are some ways you can get additional value from me:
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Kevin Namaky is CEO at the Gurulocity Brand Management Institute, a marketing education company that trains and consults for notable brand teams including Kimberly-Clark, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bolthouse Farms and Gorilla Brands. Kevin is a featured instructor for the American Marketing Association, lectures at the IU Kelley School of business, and has been featured in Ad Age, Forbes, Fast Company and the CMO Council. Previously Kevin worked for 20 years in the corporate and agency world growing notable brands. Follow/connect with Kevin on LinkedIn, TikTok and Twitter.