The Underblog

In a Land Before Digital Marketing: The Most Successful Advertising Campaigns

ad agenciesMarketing has certainly changed from the golden age of billboards and radio ads, but one thing is for sure — its not going anywhere. Instead, the name of the game has changed from analog to digital. In fact, on average, companies spent 25% of their total marketing budgets on digital in 2014, and that figure is projected to jump up to 75% in the next five years. Almost 80% of companies say that they now have social media teams, up from 67% in 2012. New online strategies are forming, and companies are jumping on board.

But there is still a lot to learn from more traditional advertising campaigns. Classics that have permeated our subconscious and become part of out lexicon obviously did an amazing job advertising. Take a look at some of the most successful advertising campaigns of the last century for inspiration in creating a fool-proof path to advertising success.

Ad agencies refer to Volkswagen’s “Think Small” campaign as the industry standard. Indeed, the legendary advertising group at Doyle Dane and Bernbach, who created the campaign in 1960, built it based on one crucial question: How to change people perceptions about an entire group of people and their product? Their honest campaign never tried to sell anything but the truth.

Absolut Vodka
The Absolut bottle doesn’t have a distinctive shape, and yet it is the most recognizable bottle in the whole world. Their ad campaign featuring the bottle in the wild was so incredibly successful that they didn’t stop running it for 25 years, making it the longest uninterrupted ad campaign of all time. By the time the campaign ended, Absolut was importing 4.5 million cases of vodka a year, making up half of all the imported vodka in the U.S, thanks to the ingenuity of their marketing agency.

Take the cue from Absolut, ad agencies, and don’t be afraid to differentiate your product by creating a story around it in an interesting way.

Nike: Just Do It
Before the fitness craze, Nike almost exclusively catered their products to marathon runners. Reebok was significantly more popular than Nike until they created the famous “Just Do It” campaign. In a span of 10 years (1988-1998), Nike sales went from $800 million to $9.2 billion. Their catchphrase was short, sweet, and encapsulated the exact sentiment of many a runner. The fact that it is still relevant today speaks to the staying power of such a concise campaign.

Ad agencies can take a cue from Nike — when designed for your brand, ask yourself what problems you are helping your customers solve.

This year, advertising firms will spend nearly $24 billion on online display advertising — before they throw money at their visibility problem, it would be wise to look back and see what has historically worked and how their creative agency can adapt to these digital times.

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