Clever vs. Effective

Clever vs. Effective

It’s a no-brainer that people love funny ads.

Humor is what Isaiah Mustafa brought to Old Spice and all their winning TV spots. It’s what the Chik-Fil-A cows bring to their brand’s table. It’s what makes consumers take pause and connect with an ad rather than brushing past it.

Clever wordplay or a visual joke can grab laughs, sure. Globally, almost half of all advertisements are based on humor; it’s a concept that resonates. However, cleverness doesn’t automatically equal success. It’s kind of like the age-old proverb:

“If a joke falls in the middle of an advertisement, does it make an impact?”

Apparently not. Research by Ace Metrix pointed out something we’ve known for a while: a “funny” ad has little impact on persuading consumers to buy if the product benefit isn’t apparent. In the battle of Clever v. Effective, those with strategy get the last laugh.

Run through this checklist to see if your idea is as effective as it is clever:

  1. Does it reflect our brand? Effective advertising is rooted in your brand. The copy, the imagery, the tone… every piece fits together in your brand’s puzzle. It highlights—and doesn’t compete against—what you stand for. It should bring the core of your company to life.
  2. Is the user benefit clear? Your ad could bust a gut or two from the funny. But if it doesn’t demonstrate exactly what you can do for a customer, the laugh is just a lot of hot air.
  3. Does it create distance? Imagine creating the world’s funniest ad. No really—it’s the world’s absolute, undeniable, hands-down funniest ad. But what if the joke doesn’t connect with your brand? What if it does nothing to set your brand apart from others? What if (and brace yourself here) it’s so disconnected from the brand that people mix-up the ad and attribute it to your competitor? The best ad creates distance between your brand and your competitors. It shows that you’re unique, and not just unique, but superior.

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