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3D text "Impact"

Good ads are effective ads.

You pay good money for the media space, so you want to be sure your advertising will be effective. Sadly there are no guarantees because all your competitors have the same idea. Just because you have paid for the space, it does not mean your customer will take notice or heed your message.

It is a cruel fact that 70% of ads fail to capture the attention of their intended audience. You’d think a bit of research beforehand would weed out the bad ideas from the good but the majority of those ads that failed have been through research. And I have sat in those research sessions, so I know.

So what’s going wrong, why aren’t your ads pulling their weight? Well, for a start, you can have a disconnect between the objectives of clients and agencies. Clients can focus on simply the rational message and totally ignore the emotion or appeal of the ad. Agencies can be pulling in the opposite direction, just focusing on creativity without considering clarity and salesmanship. You have two sides of the fence not on the same wavelength, so no wonder the effectiveness of the ad drops.

However, by incorporating certain key elements, you can reduce the risk of ineffectiveness and create impactful advertising campaigns that resonate with our target audience. In this blog post, we will explore the 10 key elements that lead to advertising success.

1. Impactful

The first step towards effectiveness is grabbing attention. If your ad fails to get noticed, everything else becomes irrelevant.

I once saw a Creative Director give a simple demonstration to push that thought home. In a meeting, he turned over five pieces of paper. On four of the sheets he had drawn a zero, and on one sheet he had drawn a cross. He then asked, “Which one did you see first?” Of course, it’s the cross, it did not fit into the pattern.

We react the same way with pictures and words, if it is the same old boring stuff, our eyes will drift over it. However, impact alone is not enough. We need clarity, so focus on delivering a single strong message that makes a lasting impression.

John West print ad - Nothing but fish
Poster for John West Salmon. Leo Burnett, London

2. Relevant

Ensure that your creative idea directly links to the product benefit. Avoid self-indulgent irrelevance, no matter how clever it may seem. Ad agencies are guilty of this all the time, producing ads that appeal to a panel of advertising judges rather than your intended target market. They often have the best intentions but stray too far away from a persuasive message for the sake of impact. Your ad should clearly communicate the value proposition and demonstrate why the product or service is beneficial to the audience.

3. Persuasive

Present your product’s benefits in the most persuasive way possible. Is it a unique demonstration or an emotional testimony? Your message should appeal to the audience’s rational and emotional aspects, providing compelling reasons to choose your offering over competitors.

“Making promises and keeping them is a great way to build a brand.”

– Seth Godin

4. Believable

Building trust is a significant challenge in advertising. People are naturally sceptical, how many times have I felt gypped when I’ve bought a burger and compared it to the image on the lightbox? Yes, the image looks great but that resentment builds and builds. That car that has had only one lady owner, hmmm, not so sure. It’s crucial to deliver your message with special sensitivity and skill. Strive to create an ad that is authentic, credible, and relatable. While believability is essential in most advertising categories, there may be exceptions for novelty or high-consumption products. Yes, funny and unbelievable beer ads do have their place.

5. Entertaining

Boredom is the enemy of effective advertising. To captivate your audience, make the communication an enjoyable and stimulating experience. Whether it’s through print or broadcast media, engage your viewers by offering a memorable experience. Funny, sad, nostalgic, envy, jealousy – what emotion can you trigger?

6. Involving

The key word here is engagement. Create a sense of personal connection by speaking directly to your audience. When you can engage individuals on a one-to-one level and pique their interest, the benefits are immeasurable. Craft your message in a way that makes them feel seen and understood.

7. Endearing

Win their hearts. We said it before but people are a teasy weasy bit suspicious about ads, they are not all that happy about having their content consumption interrupted by your message – it can put them in a grumpy mood. If you can win the “Ah” factor you can turn that hate into love. Touch your audience in a personal way, appealing to their emotions can create a tremendous advantage. Establish an emotional connection that resonates long after the ad is over.

8. Memorable

The average American sees 4,000 to 10,000 ads a day. The hungry arm of commercialism just will not give us a moment’s peace. And then of course we also have to think about what we are going to eat that day, what to say in the important meeting coming up. Yes, our brains are bombarded. With all that information flying around our brains, developing a piece of memorable content is difficult but very important. Your customer may not be ready to buy your product or service when they see your message, but if you can implant a relevant memory in their brain, then when they are on the search for something you offer, your brand will spring to mind. Do that and you will find out how effective advertising can be. So, ensure that your advertising message contains a highly memorable moment or device. This moment should stem from the product benefit, creating a lasting imprint in the minds of viewers.

9. Distinctive

To stand out from the competition, your communication must be visually distinctive. Develop a unique personality that reflects your brand identity. I used to work for a Creative Director that used a neat trick to get this across. He would cover up the logo in the bottom right corner of the scamp with his big thumb and ask, “Can I recognise who this ad is for?” If you have a distinctive style and tone of voice, people will pick it up at a glance. Craft an ad that leaves a lasting impression, setting your brand apart from others.

10. Motivating

High recall is not enough; you must inspire action. What are you saying to encourage people to take the next step? People very rarely make impulsive decisions to buy, they have to work up to it. They might have to see your communication several times before they take action but each time they come across your brand they should be encouraged to take action. While your ad doesn’t have to be a “hard sell,” it should be compelling enough to motivate viewers to take the desired action, whether it’s making a purchase or seeking more information.


Data is important, it will get your message in the right place, in front of the right eyeballs but it does not mean that it will be seen. Consider this quote from Bill Bernbach, “However much we would like advertising to be a science — because life would be simpler that way — the fact is that it is not. It is a subtle, ever-changing art, defying formularization, flowering on freshness and withering on imitation; where what was effective one day, for that very reason, will not be effective the next, because it has lost the maximum impact of originality.”

Remember, effective advertising is an ongoing process of adaptation and innovation. Stay creative, stay authentic, and continue to explore new ways to engage your audience. By doing so, you’ll pave the way to advertising success.