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10 rules of cool advertising 10 rules of cool advertising

Last year’s edition of the Sticky Brands study for MTV Netherlands contained a chapter on cool advertising. I will share some conclusions from our work exclusively on this blog. Cool brands seem to have cool ads. There’s a high correlation (of .67 for the statistic nerds among you) between the perceived coolness of a brand and its advertising executions. We looked into the results of 315 brands in 15 different consumer industries. The sectors with the least cool ads according to the Dutch Millennials were: banking, automotive, cosmetics, tour operators, mobile operators, jeans, fast food and fashion.

The TOP 5 of brands with the coolest advertising were:

  1. Heineken (beer)
  2. Coca Cola (soft drinks)
  3. Centraal Beheer (insurance)
  4. Nike (sporting)
  5. Albert Heijn (retail)

When we compared the brands with the top 25% coolest ads with the ones that were in the bottom 25%, the former had a purchase rate that was double the rate of the uncool advertisers. From analyzing the TV commercials Gen Y liked, we were able to derive the 10 rules of cool ads:

  1. Stay true to your brand’s DNA in every ad (= be authentic): Bacardi’s commercials like the Island commercial are about nightlife, partying, socially connecting. Nike’s World Cup 2010 ‘Write the future’ commercial was about famous soccer teams and players in history.
  2. Be recognizable. Stay close to the daily life of youth. Think of themes like boy meets girl (like the Coke Zero TVC’s or boys against girls (like the Heineken walk-in fridge)
  3. Humor is the key to happiness. Sentimental (warm) humor and parodies (like the men with talent in Heineken’s TVC) work best with the emotional Millennials.
  4. Fantasy themes work well as long as they still relate to the daily routines of youth. Coke’s Happiness Factory commercial shows a fantasy scene but starts and ends with the real life vending machine.
  5. The ‘SU-SU-SU-dio’ rule: cool commercials know how to build up SUspense and then have a Sudden Surprise moment. Glad you sussed that out, didn’t you? Centraal Beheer’s Daddy Cool commercial is a great example. And thank you Phil Collins, for inspiring me.
  6. Music is the answer. But always use exciting, up tempo, recognizable and easy to remember tunes. Or create your own summer hits like Coke, Bacardi, Levi’s etc. have been doing in the past.
  7. Load it with emotions, many emotions BUT only positive emotions like happiness…
  8. Short takes, fast editing and many different camera positions. Gen Y has a short attention span and IS used to the visual magic of 3D and SFX movies, games and videoclips. You don’t want them to get bored after 5 seconds.
  9. Recognizable gimmicks such as the Heineken yell enhance your ad’s recall.
  10. Re-use the same lead actors and characters in successive campaigns and commercials. Recognizing the actors will induce brand familiarity and trust. The Albert Heijn commercials always show the same store manager.
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Posted in Campaigns