Tuesday 21 January 2014

How to come up with a good advertising idea

Did you know you have around 50 thoughts a minute? That's 70,000 thoughts per day and over 25 million each year. Evidently, it’s easy enough to come up with ideas. The hard part is coming up with good ones. Here's how I do:

(If you're like me, after holidays, like an old car on a cold morning, the brain takes time to warm up. So, this post is as much for me, to help get my brain into gear, as it is to share how I do.) 

1. Noticeable

Your idea needs to be noticeable. Otherwise known as getting cut-through, or what I predict will be 2014's darling buzz word, 'disruptive'. Your creative needs to get noticed. This is the reason we, creatives, go to work. Because if an idea doesn’t get noticed the brand may as well be talking to a wall.

Money can get you noticed. Buy a lot of media space over a long period of time and you’ll get noticed. But it’s because our clients don’t have an endless pool of money that they employ advertising agencies (creatives specifically) to achieve noticeability.

How do you get noticed? Simple. Do something unexpected, something original. Break people’s guessing machines and surprise them.

2. Memorable  

Make the brand or product you're advertising memorable. Ideas need to be ownable by the brand. There’s no point in making an ad if it’s not remembered for the brand. Without being remembered, specifically in a buying situation, then your advertising is meaningless.

How do you achieve memorability? By using the right tone, using the brand's market based assets (logos, colours, taglines), making the setting of the ad and its contents all apart of the closed world of that product or brand. And, most importantly, make the brand or product relevant to the story being told in the advertising. To see how this works go here: What fires together, wires together OR How advertising actually works

3. Likeable  

And the most obvious one, yet bizarrely most overlooked - make your advertising likeable. Like getting noticed, this can be achieved through spending a lot of money on media and achieving like-ability through familiarity, but because clients don't have that money tree, again, they rely on great creative to achieve this. 

We have to stop advertising and start entertaining. (Advertaining, anyone?). Being noticeable and memorable isn't enough, because this can be easily achieved through the dark arts of advertising: jingles. An ad has to be likeable, so when it is remembered, it's remembered in a positive way, which leads to your audience reaching, on autopilot, for your brand and not your competitors.

The Message

But all this is for nothing if you don't communicate a message. What's the point of communicating if you have nothing to say? 

The message doesn't have to be a so-called unique selling proposition, it simply has to say something (ideally a category benefit) and be noticeable, memorable and likeable. 

I’ve written ‘Message’ in the middle of the triangle above, because it's the starting point (but not finishing point) of an idea. You read your brief, pull out the message, say it straight and then using the triangle, say it great. 

Christopher Ott


  1. I really liked your tip to make that your advertisement makes your brand noticeable. It is kind of pointless to advertise something in a place that nobody sees. I think that it kind of ties into relevance of location that you place the advertisement. You really want to put it in a place where your potential customers will see it often. http://accesssportsmedia.com

    1. Hi Kent, cheers for the comment. And, absolutely. The media placement is paramount. You don't want to advertise tampons in the guy's toilets, eg.

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