1

Super Bowl ad “best of” lists tend to rely on one of three perspectives:

While these lists are often entertaining and the comments potentially insightful, they generally lack any objective criteria that allow you to apply the success or failures of Super Bowl ads to your own situation.

In an attempt to provide criteria, last year #BZBowl, sponsored by The Brainzooming Group, used ratings from the SUCCES (Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotional, Stories) model the Heath Brothers explained in their book on effective communication, Made to Stick.  While this raised the Super Bowl ad analysis above “I liked it ‘cause I thought it was funny,” I’m not sure that an ad that hit on multiple parts of the SUCCES criteria is any better than one that hit really well on only one criteria.

In their book, however, the Heaths cite research on advertising creativity from a group of Israeli social scientists. That research showed award winning ads nearly always make use of a rather short list of tools. The researchers’ subsequent book, Cracking the Ad Code, describes the eight tools and two complementary principles present in nearly every ad professionals judge as award winning and audiences describe as “creative.”

Briefly, the eight tools are:

  • Unification – using an element of the medium or in its vicinity to deliver the message.
  • Activation – using the viewer as a resource to reveal the message.
  • Metaphor – exploiting symbols or cognitive frameworks that already exist in the mind of the viewer to deliver the message.
  • Subtraction – excluding an element of the medium considered to be indispensible.
  • Extreme Consequence – presenting an extreme—sometimes negative—situation that happens as a result of using the product.
  • Extreme Effort – depicting the absurd lengths a consumer will go to obtain a product or the extreme lengths a company will go to in order to please a consumer.
  • Absurd Alternative – showing a possible, though highly outlandish and impractical, alternative to the product being offered.
  • Inversion – suggests how horrible the world would be without the advertised product.

The two complementary principles are Fusion and Closed World:

  • Fusion involves melding the symbol for something, its story, and the product or brand you are advertising. If your story is connection and your product is a telecommunications, the fusion is your logo becomes the world, i.e. ATT.
  • Closed World uses symbols or ideas from the actual world of the product. E.g. detergents would use clothes, stains, washing machines, not flowers, sunshine and mountaintops.

Ads employing Fusion and Closed World are judged more creative.

So for this year’s #BZBowl, The Brainzooming Group will track Super Bowl ads to see which ads employ  these tools and principles. We will also look at a sampling of “best of” lists to see if use of those tools match up with the ads on those lists. Look for our #BZBowl analysis recap mid-week following the Super Bowl.

Remember, if you want to tweet your thoughts live on which Super Bowl ads are good, better, best (or even crappy), include the #BZBowl hashtag in your tweets and join us for the smart, intimate, and conversational Super Bowl ad chat before, during, and after the Super Bowl this Sunday, February 6, 2011!Barrett Sydnor

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming at gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

21

When thinking about your social media strategy, you should be planning for 6 important metrics. What are the six? There are 3 different levels of social media participation and 2 different types of measures. Put them in a 3 x 2 matrix, and you get six.

Here’s the rundown on the 3 social media engagement aspects to measure:

  • Activity – Any metrics relating to actions your organization is taking on social media: blogging, tweeting, posting, promoting, etc.
  • Interaction – This category’s measures focus on how your audience is engaging with your social media presence: followers, comments, likes, sharing, user created content, etc.
  • Returns – This group accounts for where your social media activities directly or indirectly support measures driving successful organizations: revenue creation (and the activities that lead up to it), cost minimization (along with activities to help achieve it), and other critical financial performance metrics.

Relative to the two different types of measures, use the “whole-brain metrics” strategy we’ve recommended before: capture both quantitative (left brain) and qualitative (right brain) elements. Using this metrics dashboard strategy accounts for both the “hard” numbers and softer perspectives (stories, images, buzz-related feedback) to provide the most complete evaluative picture of your social media strategy.

There’s a clear advantage to considering the metrics strategy when devising your overall social media strategy. The earlier you think through what you should be tracking in these six categories, the better you’ll be able to shape your innovative social media strategy to be ROI-oriented. – Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

1

I check KnowEm, a site to track the availability of user names across social media applications, frequently to see how many social media websites they tout. The current number is “more than 350.” A little more than a year ago when I discovered an earlier incarnation of the website, the number of social media applications listed was closer to 100.

That’s incredible growth, making it challenging to keep up, even if you’re immersed in social media.

What can you do to stay current on social media if it’s not your full time gig?

Here are two strategies to use:

  • Make sure you have strategic teammates very immersed in social media, i.e. they’re constantly staying on top of even more new social media applications and what they’re used for than you are. Ask them questions and let them guide and keep you informed on the latest innovations.
  • Pick out a new social media application from one of the fifteen social media categories on KnowEm, sign up, and spend the next week or two gaining some familiarity with it. When you feel like you’ve got a sense of that social media application, strategically select another one from a different category to try.

I put these two ideas together last week to pick up from Nate Riggs’ advocacy for location-based applications and finally forced myself to try Foursquare more aggressively. Doing so led to insights about the value and related opportunities of Foursquare, thoughts on the potential challenges of motivating participation, and interestingly, mayorship of three churches – guess that says a lot about where I spend my time!

At one new social media application every week or two you’re not going to wind up trying all of them. But really, the more important point is to have a current sense of what’s out there. Pick out your new social media application to try, and while you’re at it, don’t hesitate to let me know what my next one to try should be! – Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

9

Metrics strategy is a vital topic relative to innovation. Despite how important metrics strategy is, it’s a challenging one for many businesses when it comes to innovation. Going back through my own experiences and secondary research on the topic, here are a few starting thoughts on developing what we call a “whole-brain” approach:

Begin developing your innovation metrics strategy by determining what factors drive ROI.

Specifically identify which factors increase positive business returns and which reduce necessary investment. Starting with the end result in mind will better align the overall effort toward delivering a positive return on investment.

Adopt a “whole-brain metrics” orientation.

This means consciously trying to capture both quantitative (left brain) and qualitative (right brain) metrics. Doing so, you satisfy the financial and performance-oriented need for numerical targets and tracking. Adding qualitative measures into the equation, however, also provides the basis to match the numbers with stories, images, and other insights, providing a more complete performance picture.

Within the whole-brain approach, consider three distinct types of metrics related to innovation.

  • Culture Metrics – If your innovation efforts are part of an overall push to instill a more innovative approach to a department, business unit, or company, culture-based measures help track how solidly the effort has taken hold. Quantitative metrics in this area may be more activity-oriented, i.e., how many people are participating in innovation efforts and what percent of employees have been trained in creative or strategic thinking disciplines. Qualitative elements can tie to success stories on personal & professional development or other workplace-based changes.
  • Process Metrics – The second group of measures relate to systematic innovation activities.  Quantitatively, it could be how many ideas have been developed or are in various parts of the innovation pipeline. Longer term, it could incorporate how many patents have been filed and received. Qualitative measures in this area might relate to process learnings or images / descriptions of prototypes developed through innovation efforts.
  • Return-Based Metrics – The third group includes ROI, ROC, new products/services as a percent of sales, etc. Here too though, it’s important to augment the quantitative measures with qualitative elements, such as success stories, learnings (from both successes and mistakes), and customer comments (letters, email, online and social media-based responses, etc.).

This is hardly an exhaustive treatment on innovation metrics strategy, but it can be a good starter for expanding what you’re doing now. If, however, you’re doing more currently in this area, then please share what’s working for you.  – Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

0

For today, change your decision making strategy.

Do you usually gather facts, deliberate, look at all angles, think about it some more, and then reach a qualified point of view? Then for today, make quick yes or no decisions on questions you face.

On the other hand, do you see everything as black and white, making decisions with no hesitation? If so, step back today, solicit other perspectives, think a while, and then decide a course of action.

The benefit, irrespective of whether you see the world as black and white or grey, is you’ll get a sense of the other side’s decision making strategy. You will be able to see previously hidden benefits in a different decision making style. You can reveal new creative and innovative options that wouldn’t have surfaced with your typical decision making style.

And best of all, you can go right back to your more comfortable decision making strategy tomorrow. – Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

1

As we’ve mentioned previously, during Super Bowl XLIV as part of #BZBowl, Brainzooming Strategic Contributor Barrett Sydnor focused on rating Super Bowl ads based on the memorability criteria highlighted in the book, “Made to Stick.” Here’s Barrett’s assessment:

“I loved that ad with the little kids, you know, the one for . . ., Well I can’t remember who it’s for, but I loved it.”

We’ve all said those same words more or less. Most critiques of Super Bowl ads operate on that level. The ad someone “liked” or thought was the funniest is declared the best Super Bowl ad.

But that isn’t why advertisers buy Super Bowl time. They want to sell stuff, lots of stuff. To accomplish that, the message must be memorable. As Chip and Dan Heath write, it must be “Made to Stick.” So in generating ratings for the Brainzooming Super Bowl XLIV ad analysis, I was more systematic in assessing the best and worst Super Bowl ads using the six strategic characteristics Made to Stick says make for memorable messages.

Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotion, Story

From kickoff to final whistle there were 31 breaks containing 67 national commercials and at least one very memorable promo. I watched each ad only once—as it ran—and made my judgments as to whether each met the six criteria (yes/no only, no shades of gray here) in as close to real time as possible. I haven’t looked at any best and worst list other than Mike’s.

Most Memorable Ads

  • Based on the Made to Stick criteria, I rated Doritos “Keep Your Hands Off My Momma” as the most memorable Super Bowl ad. It hit on all six cylinders.
  • The runner-up is Google for Paris. I thought it hit on five of six. (Mike and I disagree here.  Actually the next best ad was for The Late Show with Dave, Oprah, and Jay–but I think advertising is like therapy, it doesn’t count if you don’t pay.)
  • Tied for Third: Snickers, Coca-Cola (Simpson’s characters), and Teleflora. All had four of six and all were well done tactics with clear strategies.

Least Memorable Ads

  • The least memorable Super Bowl ad was Diamond Foods. The totally overproduced and under-communicating ad for Emerald Nuts and Pop Secret met none of the “Made to Stick” criteria.
  • The next least memorable ad was Vizio. It did meet one criterion (Unexpected), but the rest of it was so bad it drops to the penultimate place on merit.
  • Third worst went to the Go Daddy spots collectively. They met no criteria and made you feel bad for everyone involved.

A full listing of all the ads with their Made to Stick criteria ratings and my pithy comments can be downloaded at the end of the post.

Summary

Using the same criteria, someone else might reach a different conclusion about most and least memorable, i.e. your mileage may very.  But we should be able to agree that memorable communication counts for something in marketing.

Right now, we’re applying these principles for an event strategy project, designing an innovative positioning and strategy to create greater memorability and impact for attendees. What we’ve found at Brainzooming is beyond applying the “Made to Stick” criteria after the fact, the big opportunity is to innovatively use them in developing communications creative strategy. – Barrett Sydnor

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading

1

It’s a challenge to objectively examine your own website as if a prospect or customer seeking information would. There’s a strategic thinking approach you can follow to get ideas flowing though: Look at a direct competitor’s online presence, trying to shoot holes in it based on how a customer might view it.

You should really be able to get into it by answering a few questions:

  • What misleading or out-of-date information is presented?
  • What’s not compelling about the website?
  • What’s confusing about the navigation?
  • How much unnecessary detail do I have to supply to get a copy of the “free” download?
  • What questions do I have that the website doesn’t answer?
  • Do I know where to get my other questions answered?
  • In what ways did I get smarter by browsing this website?
  • In what ways were my information needs left wanting?

After doing this, go back and see how your own online presence compares. Looking at yourself from a customer perspective should now be much easier! – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can develop an integrated social media strategy for your brand.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Continue Reading