What over 900 case histories tell us about designing effective campaigns

The IPA latest book on effectiveness by Les Binet and Peter field performs a valuable service for hard pressed brand managers and creative directors everywhere . It provides the hard evidence for taking a long term view of brand building. And for creative directors at ad agencies it endorses something that they have known for a long time – really powerfully emotional ads work.

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Here were some of my key take-outs from the excellent presentation Les and Peter made at the IPA

1) Really successful brands balance short-term sales stimulation and long-term building of brand affinity through emotional connection (no surprise there)

2) They also talk to new users and do not just reward existing users. Brands have to keep “feeding the funnel.” The logic of this is that for the vast majority of  brands there are always many more non-users than existing users and if you target non- users you will also “nudge” lapsed users to try again. Again no surprise if you have been brought up on the work of Andrew Ehrenberg- but many brands do not act on this knowledge.

3) Emotion is much more powerful that most people realize- and it is understated because it is difficult to research. Why? What Emotional communications does is to prime our system 1 brains- and we are unable to give an account of how information is being processed by our system 1 brain because this is our subconscious brain.

4) The John Lewis case history provides useful model. They balance activation and brand building and in so doing achieve both short term and long-term effects. They also do not mix the two in any one channel of communication- the TV ads are designed to get a pure emotional response and the activation is information designed to stimulate a sales response. This integrated package increased their share in a highly competitive market.

5) Emotionally primed people want to believe the best of a brand. And therefore emotionally primed people view all messaging from a brand through rose tinted spectacles. That is why an integrated package of emotional and rational communication works. When you see a price ad you are already predisposed to like the brand giving the offer. Your system 2 brain tells you “ that is a good offer and fits my needs now” and your system 1 brain working away in the background endorses it with a feeling that you like the brand or people trying to sell to you.

6) If you take this work from the IPA and relate it to Daniel Kahnemann’s insights into our “two system brain” you also have the psychological language to explain the relationship between emotion and reason in making effective campaigns.

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