Chris Lamartina

Outside of my career in advertising, I produce low budget horror movies, and believe it or not, there’s more similarities between the two than you might think.

Now, I’m not suggesting we put a bloody chainsaw in your ad for toothpaste, but if you can understand the psychology of how monster movies work for an audience, you can leverage those ideas to create some truly powerful marketing plans.

Here are three quick concepts to consider in future projects.

There you have it. Three quick lessons on how strategies in marketing and in horror movies share common goals that you can leverage for your next big idea.

Katie MacNichol

In 2017, national Super Bowl ads cost an average of $10 million per minute and with that price tag came the opportunity to reach over 111 million people all in one sitting. Brands of all shapes and sizes use the Super Bowl as a broad reach platform for messaging, and even small- to medium-sized businesses use the game as a strategic and significant investment opportunity, shelling out $70,000-$90,000 for a market-specific Super Bowl ad.

However, following 2017’s big game, research from Communicus, an independent research-based consultancy, found that 80 percent of commercials failed to leave a mark on audience members. What an advertiser does with Super Bowl airtime can directly affect a consumer’s opinion or potential engagement with a brand, and at such a steep investment, keeping your audience in mind while meticulously planning your media buy helps promote Super Bowl ad success.

Communicus research shared that many failed commercials entertained viewers, but did nothing to build the business’ brand. Advertisers must then take part in a balancing act between engaging visuals and strong messaging that, when coupled together, leave an impression on audiences and help move the needle in terms of a return on investment, or ROI. When developing a commercial spot, ask yourself, “who am I talking to?” and “what am I trying to say?” Doritos, for example, consistently places their products and branding within the first few minutes of their Super Bowl ads. Keep a specific audience in mind and showcase your brand attributes from the very start of your commercial. Remember, viewer attention often drops off after just a few moments, so don’t waste any time and get your name up front in your commercial.

When it comes to creative execution, introducing out-of-the-box content seems fun and exciting, but going that route can often miss the mark in terms of drawing a connection back to your brand.

Only 10 percent of consumers even remember the average Super Bowl ad and can recall the brand advertised.

Don’t use the Super Bowl to reinvent the wheel for your business; use ad space to continue telling your story. Tell consumers why your product or service dominates the competitors and do it authentically.

Advertisers shell out massive sums to secure big-name celebrities in their commercials, but if your audience doesn’t feel a genuine connection between your brand and a new spokesperson, they’ll likely see through your ploy. For example, think back on the Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial from April 2017. Poor planning and lack of input from audiences led to off-base creative execution that not only didn’t resonate, but offended consumers. That being said, playing it safe can also prove risky. Step out of your comfort zone and put your best creative foot forward, but be sure to do the research and find your business’ best fit for cutting through the clutter.

Now, you determined your audience, established a strategic way to message to them and developed a commercial bound to resonate. Don’t put all that planning into one Super Bowl-basket. As with all advertising, the more times a consumer sees or hears an ad, the higher the recall. Make sure to extend your media buy strategy before and after game day, setting viewers up for what they’ll see during the big game and continuing the conversation after the fact. Many advertisers get so caught up in the pomp and circumstance of putting out a game day spot that they overlook simple advertising principles, like a strong frequency of viewing.

The mark of successful advertising campaigns lies in the combination of strong reach, something the Super Bowl obviously brings to the table, and frequency, something advertisers must consider when building out television media buys. The media buy shouldn’t stop at television, however. When considering reach and frequency, don’t forget to build in a comprehensive media mix. Developing an integrated buy around your Super Bowl commercial means maximizing your investment across various media platforms. This approach to planning your media takes into consideration the bigger picture, as integrated buys allow for storytelling across various vehicles, increasing reach and affording your brand added exposure. Keep your Super Bowl commercial momentum going and build strong brand awareness and recognition by considering additional mediums like radio, digital and even outdoor marketing when appropriate. Continue the conversation and extend your reach even further by integrating the messaging and visuals into all organic communications outreach as well.

Not integrating your Super Bowl media mix to elevate your creative assets? Now that could lead to a major fumble. Carefully plan your business’ creative approach and media buying strategy to ensure a successful drive to the end zone.

Tell us who you think did Super Bowl advertising right! Comment your favorite commercials and ad strategies or tweet us during the game — @aBrightIdea96.

Shawn Nesaw

Advertisers have successfully employed the use of voiceovers to command audiences for decades but getting it right takes research, planning and creativity. In producing a commercial or video collateral for your business, give the voiceover some serious thought before moving forward with the creative execution of your marketing.

Voiceovers provide the perfect opportunity to share messaging while controlling tone and guiding the emotional reception of your campaign. In fact, actual science exists behind why you might want to take your voiceover in a certain direction. For example, Phil McAleer, a psychologist at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, uncovered that we begin forming our impression of a person’s personality from their very first spoken word and that we deem higher pitched voices more trustworthy[1]. This research, along with similar findings, can shape the effectiveness of a voiceover and take your marketing from notable to unforgettable.

To help navigate the voiceover process, we’ve gathered a few tips to keep in mind as you craft the perfect campaign.


  1. Consider your audience and test, test, test!

As with all marketing and advertising, put your audience first. Consider what type of voice would resonate most with your target market and compile a list of appropriate voice artists. Have your talent provide audition reels and test the different assets against one another in a controlled environment. Reflect on what has worked for your competitors and improve on that model. This could mean going in a completely different direction, but testing will ensure your audience relates to whichever voice you decide on.

  1. Keep voice quality in mind and pick a clear emotional direction.
Waveforms show voice amplitude and moments of silence.

Once you’ve picked a voice artist that appeals to your audience, consider the cadence, tone and diction necessary to effectively share your message. A skilled voice artist exhibits control over his or her voice, altering the delivery of copy based on the emotion you want to elicit from your audience. Make sure you’ve chosen a voice artist who not only has a great, natural quality to his or her voice, but that he or she can also convey a message convincingly and authentically to your audience.

  1. Be consistent and think long-term.

A successful advertising campaign relies, in part, on the frequency at which your message reaches your target audience. Establishing retention within a market depends on the repetition of messaging. This applies to voiceovers, too. When picking a voiceover artist, decide on someone who can deliver a variety of messages for the brand. Staying consistent with a voice artist throughout the life of a campaign builds trust and triggers auditory recognition that recalls unique brand characteristics without having to explicitly remind audiences.

  1. Make sure you’ve got a great script.

Even the best voice actors can’t make a weak script deliver results. An effective voiceover depends upon a well-developed script. So, after you’ve written your voiceover copy, read it aloud, paying attention to the rhythm and flow of the delivery. A word or phrase might look great on paper but sound terrible to the ear. Keep your script clear and creative, and whatever your campaign goal may be, make sure your copy speaks to the action or feeling you want to encourage.


Developing effective and interesting voiceover to complement your campaign visuals often proves daunting, but with proper planning and testing, you can root your marketing efforts in strategy. Monitor the success of your campaign and evaluate how your creative assets resonate with larger audiences. There’s always room for further perfecting efforts, so stay open to switching directions.

Tell us about an effective voiceover experience you’ve executed, or better yet send us a link and let us hear it!

[1] http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/05/05/308349318/you-had-me-at-hello-the-science-behind-first-impressions

Shawn Nesaw

Marketers always look for new and exciting ways to reach their customers and grow their brand. In recent years, while digital advertising has seen steady growth, standing out from the din of every other advertisement out there can be a challenge.

For businesses looking to target audiences towards the bottom of the sales funnel, converting interests into sales, podcast advertising might be a worthwhile option as part of a strategic advertising effort. Podcasts target a niche, captive audience to which a brand can push its product or service directly into the ears of listeners interested in first, the podcast content, and second, products or services that meet a need and/or match the content of the show.

Any effective advertising campaign works through the sales funnel to figure out where customers are along their buying journey and how to get them to convert while spending as little as possible per conversion. TV, radio and digital ads all play important roles throughout the sales funnel from building awareness and interest to conversions. The old saying, never put all your eggs in one basket, holds true in advertising. Use podcasts in conjunction with other mediums to ensure your brand hits a wide range of people in the funnel.

As podcasts continue to grow as an important and worthwhile medium for marketers and brands, businesses must understand what makes a podcast advertisement unique. Once you’ve gained a better understanding of the medium, consider if your business and podcasts are right for each other.

Here’s what you need to know about podcasts before adding the tool to your advertising strategy.

  1. Trusted voice – If there’s one thing podcast listeners have in common, it’s their trust in the host. Podcast hosts fall into the influencer category. The audience views podcast hosts as experts and their shows are a manifestation of their interests and expertise. By creating engaging content audiences come back for repeatedly, they build an audience that genuinely trusts them. It’s that trust that plays well for advertisers. Most ads use live reads, delivered directly by the host at the beginning (pre-roll) or midway (mid-roll) through the show. Live reads, similar to radio, come across like a recommendation from a friend with an authentic feel. Considering your audience, find podcasts/hosts that pair well with your product or service. If their show, voice and audience all match your organization’s brand and target audience, you’ve found a good fit.
  2. The product/service – If you want to advertise on podcasts, you need a product with a broad user base. This is due to the fact that podcasts have a fairly wide range of demographics in their audience. Ads for essentials like underwear, razors, beds and other products are the norm on podcasts because just about everyone uses them. Pairing the right product with the right audience allows the brand to reach more potential customers. A podcast framed around exercise, with a core audience of health enthusiasts, is more likely to advertise jump ropes, foam rollers and Whey protein than it would a new brand of coffee or an online flower delivery service.
  3. A special offer – It’s true, sometimes you just can’t pass up a sale. Podcast ads not only win over audiences with trusted recommendations and useful products, but they almost always tack on a special offer code at checkout. Brands will offer podcast listeners an even deeper discount to further entice on-the-fence buyers.

Podcasts have risen in popularity over the past decade, gaining the attention of brands and marketers who happily fill the podcast niche with quality ads reaching dedicated audiences, something difficult to come by these days. Consider adding this strategy to your marketing toolbox when the brand, audience and budget match up with what podcasts have to offer.

Shawn Nesaw

We’re constantly curating the soundtrack of our lives, handpicking melodies that speak to us on any number of levels, conscious or subconscious. Going through a break-up? Cue the heartbreak ballads. Working out? Turn-up the techno beats. We’re used to tuning into the songs that best correlate with what we’re feeling or doing, but did you know that the reverse is also true?

That is, that music can elicit a particular feeling when you’re in an otherwise neutral state. You’ve probably implicitly noticed this, even if you haven’t given it too much thought, but the power of music has swayed audiences for centuries. Take a movie, for example: the soundtrack or score supports what’s happening onscreen and guides spectators into feeling a certain way about situations and even specific characters.

Using the same logic, businesses can harness this tactic to build brand recognition and positive perception.

Take this study published in the Journal of Applied Business Research. A sample audience of 210 undergraduate students was asked to record all the thoughts that came to mind after watching a suite of ads. What the audience didn’t know was that prior to constructing these test ads, 16 melodies were pretested based on music that would elicit negative, neutral or positive emotions. Those findings were used to develop three music beds (one negative, one neutral and one positive) that were added to a single commercial. The results supported the hypothesis that negative, neutral and positive musical emotive cues exerted a progressively enhanced influence on brand attitudes, meaning the “negative music has a less favorable influence on brand attitude than neutral music, and neutral music has a less favorable influence on brand attitudes than positively valenced music.”

So how do you use this to your brand’s advantage? It certainly takes trial and error to get right, but finding the perfect music bed can take your audience on a journey that a voiceover or just an image simply can’t. Brands can use a song’s message to reinforce their own and in doing so, seamlessly strengthen a visual with an accompanying aural cue. But lyrics aren’t the only way to spread a message, as even an instrumental song can elicit happy or sad emotions, transcending language barriers and broadening audiences through music.

Most importantly, in an age where brands must stand out among all the clutter, music in advertising helps content break through by connecting with audiences on an emotional level.

In advertising, humanizing a product or service is the first step in gaining the trust that leads to conversions. Music tells the story of the human condition, and it can be a powerful tool in your next campaign.

This bee was busy working. See how we used music to set the tone:

Shawn Nesaw

Establishing your business’ brand through an essential and ongoing process of advertising distinguishes your services and products from competitors. Businesses both small and large go to great lengths to set themselves apart and break through the clutter of our dynamic marketplaces. A thoughtful advertising campaign uses a paid approach to getting your message in front of the appropriate audience. However, in a society growing increasingly immune to commercialization, you must also consider supplementing with a more organic tactic. That’s where social media, with diverse and engaged user-bases, comes into play.

Millions of people turn to social media platforms daily to communicate with friends, conduct business, explore interests and discover new ideas. While seemingly intangible, it’s frighteningly measurable and filled with opportunities to further connect with consumers.

Measurable Insights:

  • Follower growth
  • Reach and impressions
  • Engagement
  • Mentions
  • Website traffic
  • Leads
  • Customer sentiment or satisfaction

Instituting a strategic social media plan and sharing quality content regularly can reinforce existing relationships and help forge new ones. While there are exciting ways to reach target customers using sponsored messaging, social media can be effective without adding any additional dollars to your spending. Using your paid efforts that raise awareness and share key messaging, turn to social media to continue the conversation and engage your audience. Coupling the two strategies boosts your return on investment (ROI) and provides qualitative results in an arena that can sometimes be a bit nebulous.

Put a face (or faces) to a name
Social media allows you to humanize your brand. Consumers are growing increasingly more interested in corporate responsibility and what brands do outside of the services they provide or products they sell. There is a very tangible movement toward emotionally connecting with the brands one supports. Using social media to spread awareness of how your brand operates both internally and externally can serve as an additional, non-paid branding effort. When consumers can relate to a brand’s core values, they are more likely to become loyal return customers.

Accentuate campaigns
Use social media to extend your paid advertising campaign by integrating imagery and messages across all the platforms you manage. Brand’s like National Geographic use social media as a behind the scenes or breaking news medium. Messaging and imagery initially used across social media later develops into stories that appear in the glossy pages of the world famous magazine. Similarly, brands can use social media to give inside looks into the development of a particular advertising campaign or to simply augment a campaign
without spending additional dollars.

Hone in
In order to maximize budgets, small businesses often use advertising to cover a range of promotional services or products. Social media can help focus an advertising campaign and allows a business to feature products or services in a more detailed way. For example, a small business may want to use radio and print advertisements to promote a sale happening in stores. Social media platforms serve as a great way to spread the word even further and show off some specific items or services consumers can expect to get on sale.

 

Implementing a strategic social media plan that delves deeper into your business’ culture and offerings might be just what your advertising is missing. Find the social media platforms that best fit your needs and set aside some time each month to develop a few posts that highlight your work or products. Coupling your paid efforts with some authentic, organic social media content can greatly lift your overall investment at no added cost.

I recently saw a video entitled, “What if money was no object,” narrated by Alan Watts. The imagery was compelling, and coupled with the catchy accent of the narrator, helped resonate it’s important key message and takeaway – life is too short to spend it doing something you don’t enjoy.

It’s the start of a new year. With 2012 our past, and 2013 our future, it’s the perfect moment to take advantage and get inspired to think about change. Some people are change-averse, while others welcome it with open arms. As we begin this new year, it’s a great time to reflect on the past year or two (or ten) and analyze if you are heading in the direction you had hoped – whether it pertains to yourself, your business, your brand, and/or how you want to be perceived.

Could this be the year that you push the envelope and modernize? Maybe tackle a new market or expand your service or product offerings? Refresh or update the brand you’ve kept since your company’s inception? As time, trends and your customers change, your business strategy needs to account for these changes.

Refining your business strategy, key messages or brand does not have to mean a complete overhaul of everything you’ve established. Rather, it can be more of a refinement of how you identify and present your business to your target audience, and among the competition. What makes you unique, different, a benefit? Why are you trusted, savvy or the expert in your field? In order to stay in competition you have to be the competition. Keeping your business strategy on target and staying tapped in to your position in the market is essential in understanding your marketing and branding strategy, and analyzing your success in accomplishing the goals of your business.

Below are items to consider as you evaluate your branding position and business strategy, as well as your plans on what you intend to accomplish in 2013 and beyond.

Relevancy – Consider the relevancy of your brand or business – externally and internally. Does your brand encompass the business strategy now and how you intend to be perceived now and in the future?

Growth – Does your business have multiple entities or pieces? Consider uniting them under a single brand mark or name. Sometimes, growth warrants change. If your business has expanded over the years, it may be time to refine a stronger brand representing your success. Key messaging may need tweaking with your growth.

Audience – Consider the audience of your business. Does your company want to tap into a new market? Is the current brand suitable for that audience? Changing the business location or new product offerings or services warrants a look into your overall business strategy and goals.

Handling your business goals and branding strategically is a necessity. Making a change can be difficult, but if made with trust and a thorough plan can mean a world of difference.

Take a moment and enjoy the video. Catch a little inspiration and consider what change could mean to you. It might be time for a refinement of your strategy – look back at your one year, five year or ten year plan. Where are you in your plan and how have you performed? Maybe it’s time to breathe some new life into your business or brand. Get inspired by 2013 and make an impact for the years to come!

The planning season is upon us – who are we kidding; we actually begin planning for next year in October or even earlier! However, as we inch closer to the new year, there are still a great number of opportunities for businesses to get ready and tackle their goals with a strategic advertising plan.

First things first, an advertising plan is only part of a business’ larger strategic marketing plan. The marketing plan should outline the organization’s goals, objectives, stakeholders, key messages and tactics – one of which could be advertising.  The marketing plan is essential for businesses to keep on target as they work toward accomplishing goals, and lays the groundwork for the supporting tactics (like advertising) to be effective and measured for success.

Effective advertising comes from good planning and research, proper budgeting, utilizing key messages, including a strong call to action, and of course, commitment. Here are some tips to think about when planning your advertising strategy for 2013.

1. Know your brand – What makes you unique? How are you, your products or services different than the competition?  Review your brand when thinking about your advertising focus for the year.

2. Identify your focus – Will it be branding, highlighting a product or service, or developing a promotional offer? How and why are you planning to focus your advertising on this messaging? How is what you are promoting, different than the competition?

3. Set your goals – A step that goes right along with identifying the focus, establishing realistic and measurable goals is essential to an advertising plan. Is the focus of the advertising in line with your overall business goals? If not, why is it the focus? Don’t advertise for the sake of advertising if your messaging isn’t going to support your business’ goals.

4. Set your budget – Seemingly simple, but truly one of the most important to focus on. Don’t simply say, “let’s do what we did last year.” Work with your agency and take the time to review and analyze your advertising budget and what your goals for the coming year include. Is the amount dedicated to advertising right to support your goals?

5. Identify the appropriate medium – Considering your goals, focus and target audience, work with your advertising agency to identify the proper media mix.

6. Look at the calendar – Is any part of your advertising focus seasonal? Plan your advertising calendar along with your business cycle. Take advantage of down times to brand yourself.

7. Monitor the impact – Keeping tabs on the results is important, but you should also remember that advertising takes commitment. Don’t pull the plug because you didn’t get a call in the first week. Some marketing statistics say a person needs to hear an ad three times before retaining the information, while others say seven and so on. Plus, a person may not need (or think they need) what you’re offering right at that moment. The key is that they think of you when they do realize they have a need.

8. Make changes and learn from the results – This can be done over the course of the campaign, or year. Is your current campaign getting the results you intended and impacting your marketing goals? Maybe there needs to be a change in the key message, product or offer? Or, how can the current messaging be altered to breathe new life into the campaign and build off its success?

Looking for more help? Working with a professional is a small investment that can lead to big results. Call us to see how we can help you get started.

Power to the women

abimaster

From earning the right to vote to representing the country in the Senate and House, women in the United States have come a long way. As the 2012 election results surfaced last week, CNN reported on the record-breaking number of women representing their states in the new U.S. Senate, exemplifying how women continue to grow and expand their role in U.S. politics.

Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, representing North Dakota, will top the number of women in the 100-seat chamber at 20 for the first time in history. Massachusetts and Hawaii have also chosen female representatives for the first time, electing Elizabeth Warren and Mazie Hirono, respectively. They will join Missouri’s Senator Claire McCaskill and Wisconsin’s newly elected Tammy Baldwin.

In 1922, the U.S. Senate saw its first woman representative, even if just for a day, and in 1992, named the Year of the Woman, only seven women representatives held Senate seats.

With women taking a more prominent role in politics we find ourselves, as a woman-owned business, reflecting on how this impacts other women striving toward a new goal, whether personal or professional. NBC News even reported for the first time in history there are more women drivers than men. Women, who are usually a minority in the business world, are steadily escaping the stigma by proving themselves worthy of achieving goals with their talents and skills.

These influential and motivated women inspire us at A. Bright Idea every day and we’re proud to continue the trend of empowering women to leave their own mark in the world around them.

Capitol Building

We at A. Bright Idea love Halloween. Not only do we enjoy being creative all year, but there’s something special that this season that allows us to reach a bit further and let the juices really flow. It’s a time where many businesses abandon traditional advertising messages and have a little fun. Halloween is an excuse for creatives, and even non-creative types, to dig deep and explore their inner evil (…I mean creative) genius.

In the spirit of embracing creative advertising during the season, we invite you to check out some of the scary seasonal ads we love. Some are scary funny, while others are scary truths that take advantage of this time of year to enhance the organization’s key message and create a greater impact with the target audience.

Mall of America
We love the style and animation with the traditional spooky narration.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDBrL6IIgTw

Snickers
A festive continuation of a now iconic campaign.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6r_WX2M-s8

Budweiser
Just a normal commercial with a hilarious twist at the end, making every woman laugh and every man sigh.

McDonalds
A retro look back at the McNuggets circa 1989 as they celebrate Halloween with Ronald.

M&M’s
Thank goodness M&M’s don’t really look like this! But the Thriller dance is a good rendition.

Reece’s
Although we like the vampire version (remember Dracula likes to “eat the peanut butter first…ha ha ha ha!”), Reece’s still knows how to capture the spirit – and lets just say it, they are one of the best candies to get in your bag!

Woolite
Keep darks their darkest! This ad was designed by Euro RSCG Puerto Rico. (In collage below)

Guiness
You may think, “what is so scary about this?” Take another look (vampire fans will appreciate the subtle effect). We also love the dark side of this creative. (In collage below)

Halloween Advertising

Additional ads from collage above:

Dentist Grim Reaper Ad

Dexter Hanibal Ad

Burger King Chucky

Developers and piracy

Screamfest Cinema

Hand Gel Subway