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Dennis Altman
Dennis Altman is an advertising consultant and a Professor of Advertising and Public Relations at University of Kentucky.


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AdSlogans.com -- Wise Words/16

University of Kentucky School of
Journalism & Telecommunications

Creating an Impact
Ten tips for developing an ad that packs a punch

Dennis Altman

© 2001 Dennis Altman

Creating an Impact

When push comes to punch, every brand wants to be remembered for a certain something.

That’s why so many campaigns boil down to a single theme line. But there are no standards for judging them. As long as there’s been free speech, people have been looking for a reliable way to evaluate tag lines.

Fret no more. With this column, we establish reliable criteria for separating word wheat from waste. If you cut this out and put it up on the wall next to your panoramic window, you’ll have a working check-list that will establish the campaign value of your next creative presentation.

10 Measurement Criteria

First, a definition: Whether it’s used as a theme line, headline or tag line, the "theme thought" eventually becomes the workhorse of any campaign.

To see if your horse is pulling its weight, you can test your line against the following criteria.

Score one point for each. If you total seven or better, you can head for the meeting in confidence. You’re on target.

1. Does the line truly fit the brand? Does it reflect the brand’s claim to fame? Example: Apple’s "Think Different." The line not only establishes that Macs are the computers of choice for the creative arts, but it has the added allure of a possible grammatical error. On further reflection, this element becomes a reassuring testimonial to the brand’s identity.

2. Does it describe a tangible brand superiority? Example: "It’s not TV. It’s HBO." Again, we see an element that makes us think twice and appreciate the wisdom of the concept.

3. Does it solve a real consumer problem? Example: "Met Pays." This is so basic to the requirements of a tag line that it’s often overlooked.

4. Does it include the name of the brand? Not an essential, but if your line has it, point it out.

5. Does it have "legs"? Pay attention to this one. Can your line survive changes in the competitive picture and new trends in the field? Example: Ford’s "Better ideas, driven by you." This line puts the plus on a former Ford success, "Ford has a better idea," and extends its legs.

6. Is it reeeallly big? Does the thought inspire grand thoughts about the brand? Example: Microsoft’s "Where do you want to go today?" What a concept!

7. Does it work well with a key visual? Example: Wrigley Spearmint’s "No smoking" campaign.

8. Is it unexpected? Example: Staples’ "Yeah, we’ve got that." Anytime you can incorporate a new way to use language, you’re sure to hold their interest.

9. Does it pass the "take-away" test? Can it be easily described and understood by the people at the water cooler? And perhaps even more to the point, will it hold up on the phone, when your client leaves the meeting and reports in to the boss?

10. Is it hot? Does it touch the buttons that people really care about? Example: Volvo’s "Drive safely." After all, if people don’t share your enthusiasm, what’s the point?

And those are just the positives. It’s also possible to lose some points. If we were really doing this right, advertisers would be penalized for inane tag lines that destroy credibility or just waste time.

Nobody asked me, but I think the people who launched lines like Toyota’s "Everyday People," United Air Lines’ "Rising," and the in-one-eye and out-the-other of Winn-Dixie’s "America’s Supermarket" should seriously consider awarding rebates to their clients.

AdSlogans.com -- Wise Words/16


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