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How Strategic Communication Positioning Won for Donald Trump

13 Nov trump-positioned-to-win-001

trump-positioned-to-win-002     Donald Trump didn’t just win the war for the Electoral College, he won the messaging war for an important segment of disaffected Americans.  He did it by strategically positioning his brand, his message, and perhaps by complete accident, his marketing drivers.

     Trump paid attention to the one data set we now know mattered most—dissatisfaction with the direction of the country.  The Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ Dr. Larry Jacobs told a group of journalists and producers during the political conventions (myself included) that this was a political insight that couldn’t be ignored.  Jacobs warned that it would be extremely difficult for an incumbent or someone closely tied to an incumbent or the perceived establishment to win. 

wrong-track-001

Figure 1

      In this respect, the polling was convincing.  In the aggregate tracking compiled by Real Clear Politics, the margins couldn’t be more stark. (Figure 1)  For nearly all of 2016 Americans believed with a nearly two to one margin that the country was heading in the wrong direction.  Donald Trump focused like a laser beam on that insight and the people behind it. 

trump-perceptual-map-001

Figure 2

     In speaking to those voters, he positioned himself in their minds as the candidate who represented change.  Quite frankly, he stole a page from the strategic marketing playbooks of major brands and products in carving out a point of differentiation.   Consumers tend to build perceptual maps in their minds about how products compare to each other when they make a purchasing decision.  I would argue they make the same set of comparisons between political candidates.  In the case of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton the dominant perceptual map came down to a choice of who represented true change and who would be better for the economy. (Figure 2)  As a brand, you want to occupy the upper right region of the axis points on the perceptual map.  Trump didn’t just occupy this position, he owned it with the majority of voters in the critical swing states who tipped the Electoral College. 

rebel-ruler-001

Figure 3

     In many respects he did it through branding and messaging.  In a previous post, I established how Trump personified the Rebel archetype. (Figure 3) His break-all-the-rules brand spoke directly to disaffected voters who felt that the country wasn’t just heading in the wrong direction, but that no one was listening to them.  Clinton’s Ruler archetype was too closely aligned with the establishment that Trump’s voters felt alienated from.  To be sure, Trump also successfully deployed the fear factor.  By exploiting voter anxiety on crime, immigration, jobs, and health care insurance he banked on well-established economic theory that people are more motivated by loss than they are by gain.

     But Trump also helped his candidacy by how he marketed himself.  Former Campbell Mithun advertising agency CEO and University of Minnesota Strategic Communication Program Director Steve Wehrenberg argues that there are seven irrefutable marketing drivers.   Whether by pure luck or shrewd planning, Trump succeeded at nearly every one of these drivers.

Brand Awareness.   Real estate, hotels and casinos made Donald Trump a business brand and best selling author, but the NBC television show “The Apprentice” made him a star. By the time Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president in 2015, he was already a household name having built his brand as a savvy business expert and larger-that-life personality.  Trump was able to leverage his brand awareness to get free airplay on cable news channels and largely bypass expensive television advertising.

Emotional Bond.  Trump’s brash personality and shoot-from-the-hip style caused people to love him or hate him.  But those who loved Donald Trump, really loved him. Trump famously said during the campaign “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”  Even when the video emerged of Trump making lewd remarks about women on the “Access Hollywood” bus, it only had a temporary effect on his polling numbers.  We now know that the emotional bond to Trump’s economic message simply swamped whatever misgivings his voters had about the messenger.

Product News.   Trump’s pension for outrageousness and unpredictability made both his supporters and enemies follow his every move and statement during the campaign.  Quite simply, he was a Los Angeles car chase no one could stop watching.  His use of Twitter as a means to directly communicate with his followers kept them constantly informed of his every thought and move.

Activation.  In the marketing and advertising world, activation is getting the customer to make the immediate decision to buy your product through a sale, coupon, or incentive.  In politics, activation is about getting people to vote for you on Election Day. For all of her superior organization, fund raising, and GOTV, Hillary Clinton lost the activation battle in several critical battleground states.  Trump won it in part by his message and his personal social media appeals on November 8th.

Loyalty.   This is all about providing exclusive offerings to loyal followers.  The Best Buy’s and Amazon’s of the world build loyalty by offering discounts and free shipping if you join their rewards program.  Similarly, politicians reward loyalty by providing exclusive access and one-on-one pictures for followers at donor events.  Donald Trump attempted to build loyalty in reverse by making disaffected workers believe that he was the only candidate who believed in them. 

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Picture 1 – Donald Trump at Minneapolis-St. Pau Intl. Airport on November 6, 2016

Product Experience.  Here too, Trump created the illusion that getting the chance to see him and hear him at a rally was a not-to-miss experience.  To be sure, every candidate does this.  But Trump’s rallies became a calling.  At the Minnesota rally hastily arranged within 24 hours at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, the Republican Party of Minnesota reported 17,000 people RSVP’d online.   Trump’s followers illegally parked on Hwy 77 and scaled chain link fences to race to the hangar to get inside for the rally.  Even then, more of his followers were left stranded outside of the hangar than the thousands who got inside to hear him speak. (Picture 1)

Buzz.   For better or worse, Trump dominated Internet search and chatter.  The final Google Trends metrics show how Trump (seen in red) commanded a large share of search queries all throughout the campaign. (Figure 4) 

google-trends-potus-search

Figure 4

    Political scientists, strategists, and journalists alike will analyze the Trump electoral phenomena for months to come.  Many will focus on the flaws of Clinton herself, her State Department emails, and her abrasive personality.  Others will focus on her campaign’s failure to activate Obama Democrats.  The Washington Post has already examined misplaced ad buys in the final weekend that could have contributed to Clinton’s final downfall at the polls.  But perhaps none of that could overcome the headwinds of an electorate who believed in their core the country was heading in the wrong direction. Trump positioned himself to be the messenger change.  They may not have liked the messenger himself, but enough of them perceived his message was the only one they could identify with.

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The Archetype Branding of Trump and Clinton—The Rebel vs. The Ruler

5 Nov rebel-ruler-2-002

rebel-ruler-2-002     Since the rise of modern consumerism, political campaigns have tried to market their candidates like soap.  The positioning and branding of a candidate, especially a presidential candidate, in many cases is now performed with the discipline of commercial product launch.  They are the ultimate consumer packaged goods.

     Joel McGinniss in his ground breaking book “The Selling of the President 1968” exposed the marketing strategy of Richard Nixon and how this advisors strategically used advertising and staged television town halls to craft an image of Nixon as a knowledgeable and caring candidate.  Even Nixon lamented, “It’s a shame a man has to use such gimmicks as this to get elected.”

     In 2016, the presidential campaigns have become increasing more strategic in how they market themselves.  Among the most effective of the strategies is the grounding of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in brand archetypes.   Trump is the Outlaw or Rebel, Clinton is the Ruler. 

Figure 1

Figure 1

 

     Archetypes are essentially powerful symbols of meaning that our minds easily recognize.  They originated with the Greeks and Romans who created their Gods based upon powerful myths.   Marketers today still attach many of these metaphorical myths and archetypes to a brand or a product in order to make a psychological connection with the consumer.  They act as heuristics, or shortcuts for the consumer to build an emotional attachment with the brand.  For example, Nike is the Hero archetype, Hallmark is the Lover.  Johnson & Johnson is the Caregiver.  Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson in their book “The Hero and the Outlaw” establish the case for twelve brand archetypes based upon a quadrant of opposing psychological needs.  (Figure 1)

     It’s hard to know if the Rebel archetype was made for Donald Trump, or if Trump was made for the Rebel.  Either way, it fits.  The “rules were meant to be broken” motto of the Rebel is exemplified by one of Trump’s recent Twitter posts.

     For most of Trump’s career he’s been the Magician.   He’s the man who somehow overcomes all odds to create great deals and build great real estate properties.  In the process he has built for himself power and wealth.  For a while Trump re-branded himself as the Sage.   As the star of the NBC television show “The Apprentice,” Trump dispensed his business knowledge to would-be students and potential employees.  But with his presidential campaign, he morphed again into the Rebel.   So far he’s effectively and brilliantly used his take-no-prisoners and break-all-the-rules branding strategy to overcome every opponent that’s crossed his path—including the Republican establishment.

Figure 2

Figure 2

 

     Trump’s entire career has shown how he has mastered the art of self-promotion.  And in this latest incarnation he’s created a powerful brand of an irreverent leader who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. (Figure 2)   With his core value of putting America first, he’s crafted the brand promise of de-rigging this system—his way.  The Rebel or Outlaw archetype is a strong attractor for people who feel left out and left behind by society.   Following or identifying with the Rebel gives a feeling of liberation.   Our culture is filled with Rebel personalities such as Madonna, Niki Minaj, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly.  The archetype is also the core identity of many successful brands such as Harley Davidson, MTV, and Fox Television.

     In many respects Trump has become a California car chase—you know the outcome, but you can’t stop watching.  His unpredictability is a key part of his Rebel brand.  He doesn’t just attack and disrupt Hillary Clinton, but he shocks his audience and the media.  It’s a strategy he deployed in the third presidential debates when he promised to jail Clinton.

     For her part, Hillary Clinton with her experience as First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State brings to her brand expertise, power and control.  She is clearly the Ruler.

     Rulers are motivated by their desire to lead and consolidate power.  This is the archetype of CEO’s, kings, and yes, presidents.   Ronald Reagan, former New York Mayor Rudy Guilliani, and former Ford leader Alan Mulally  were all rulers.  Ruler brands include Goldman Sachs, Cadillac, IBM and The White House.

Figure 3

Figure 3

 

     Clinton’s Ruler archetype mediates directly into her brand promise of experience to lead. (Figure 3)  Her core value may be competence and moral authority, but make no mistake, she also needs control.   That control is also the Ruler’s chief weakness, especially their fear of chaos and preoccupation with their enemies.  In nearly every instance those traits of the Ruler have become Clinton’s chief liabilities in the 2016 presidential campaign.

     So far, her campaign has tried to use the archetype to their electoral advantage.  Even with appealing to voters to “Stand with Hilary” they are inviting them to be the rulers of their own destiny.  By pitting the Ruler against the Rebel, Clinton’s campaign is betting experience will trump recklessness and unpredictability.   The strategy is clearly evident in this recent campaign video.

     The use of branding archetypes is all about strategically positioning an easily identifiable image in the mind of the consumer–in this case the voter.   But with both Trump and Clinton the archetypes also magnify critical flaws with each candidate.   Trump’s unleashed and undisciplined style expose him as a bully and sexist.  Clinton’s Nixon-like desire for command and control, especially in how she’s handled her State Department emails and the Benghazi attacks aftermath have made her simply untrustworthy to a significant portion of the electorate.   Come Election Day we’ll find out whether the dominant brand of each candidate is able to overcome their equally exposed flaws.

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Purple Reigns — How Social Media Honored Prince

22 Apr Prince Graphic

Prince Graphic

                  If you want to know the power of a brand, just watch how other brands try to emulate it.  That’s exactly what’s happened in the tragic passing of music icon Prince.

                 In the moments after the news of his death spread on social media, social media itself became the channel by which brands tried to create their own memes in tribute.  Some in self promotion.  Therein lies extreme risk.

                  With a few exceptions, most brands weren’t just thoroughly thoughtful, they were creatively evocative, and dare I say it—shareable.  After all, that should be one of the top goals.

                 Among the most shared was a simple tweet from Chevrolet.   It’s classic Corvette forever drives one of Prince’s most classic songs.  The six words of copy were as powerful as high-octane fuel.

 

                  Perhaps no one did it better than a government agency—NASA.  The very folks whose job it is to shoot for the stars paid tribune to one of pop-culture’s brightest stars in a way that only they could do.  Their post on Twitter was metaphorical brilliance.

  

                The creative minds at advertising agencies are pre-programmed to make the metaphoric connection between values, emotion, and motivation.   The team at Minneapolis’ Carmichael Lynch not only made that emotional connection, they have a physical connection.  Their offices are across the street from the First Avenue night club where Prince filmed “Purple Rain.”   On a rainy day in Minneapolis, their post proved the power of minimalist design to speak volumes.

Farewell dear #prince

A photo posted by Carmichael Lynch (@carmichael_lynch) on

    

              Simplicity also defined the post from Caribou Coffee.  The homegrown Minnesota company didn’t waste words or images.  The message was unmistakable.

#RestInPurple #MNLove #Prince

A photo posted by Caribou Coffee (@cariboucoffee) on

  

                In contrast, brands risk scrutiny and backlash when they try to participate in social events by making the conversation—even subtlely—about themselves.   Minnesota brand 3M took that leap.  Its post with a redesigned purple logo and a tear drop in the center was creatively clever, but makes the viewer question what their true motivation was.

A photo posted by 3M (@3m) on

 

                 The Minnesota Vikings football team went there as well.  In its attempt to jump on the Prince bandwagon, they too made the conversation about themselves.  How much more powerful and meaningful would have their post been if their social media team had simply dropped the Vikings logo?

Purple Rain. #RIPPrince

A photo posted by Minnesota Vikings (@vikings) on

   

               In contrast, the Minnesota Twins took a different approach.  The team’s veterans each year try to connect the rookies to the club and the community by making them sing Prince songs.   Their montage of outtakes wasn’t just a tribute to Prince but an invitation to viewers to enjoy the best of Prince and the memories he’s created for them, too.

This is a #MNTwins tradition. Veterans make sure rookies know the words to "Little Red Corvette."

A video posted by Minnesota Twins (@twins) on

   

               It only takes one summer of living in Minnesota to understand the most powerful cultural institution in the state is the Minnesota State Fair.  It is the single camp fire by which people from every corner of the state gather to celebrate summer, music, food, and each other’s company.  The State Fair’s post reinforced how culture honors culture.

💜 #Prince

A photo posted by Minnesota State Fair (@mnstatefair) on

 

                  Star Tribune photographer Jeff Wheeler has become a brand in his own right. The images he shoots for Minnesota’s largest newspaper are often filled with metaphorical emotion that ooze from the frame.   His image of Prince’s star at the First Avenue night club needs no caption.

After kissing his fingers, a fan touched Prince's star on the wall of First Ave. Thursday afternoon. @startribune #ripprince

A photo posted by Jeff Wheeler (@jeffersonwheeler) on

  

                Finally, MTV proves how sometimes it’s best to simply make the message about the subject.  In this case, Prince’s own words.

You will be missed, @prince 💜 We're honoring him today on MTV and Facebook Live right now.

A photo posted by MTV (@mtv) on

 

                 The power of social media is how it can stimulate conversation, emotion, and reflection.  The artist we knew as Prince certainly accomplished that with his music.  The fact that millions of fans world wide shared their grief and reflections speaks volumes not just of Prince’s own brand but how he became a part, ever so small, in the story of our own lives.

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How REI’s Black Friday #OPTOUTSIDE Is Really About Something Else

27 Nov

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     On Black Friday shoppers across America will run for the malls while REI employees run for the hills.

     In a much bally-hoo’d announcement this fall, REI placed core values ahead of core retail expectations.  By closing its stores on Black Friday, REI didn’t just thumb its nose at Thanksgiving Day retail creep, it effectively stuck its hiking pole in a place where consumer demands don’t shine.  Sideways.

     REI’s decision was a call to action—go outside.

      The decision to lock the doors on November 27th is more than a YoutTube video on “REI’s Day Off.”   It’s actually a clever and strategically sophisticated effort to engage and build followers and solidify its brand as the preeminent outfitter for outdoor discovery. 

IMG_4040

Figure 1

     Since the announcement, REI has launched a multi-channel effort to encourage people to also take Black Friday off with the #optoutside hash tag campaign. (Figure 1)  On Twitter, it bought market-targeted tweets with countdown clocks to Black Friday and sent out replies to its followers with a link to the hiking trails near them.  During Thanksgiving week, it bought full-page newspaper ads and on Facebook it encouraged followers to post their outdoor plans—it received more than a million engagements.

     At the heart of the strategy for REI is brand building. In a retail environment where consumers can buy anything through Amazon and where outfitters such as Cabelas are aggressively opening new stores, REI has to fight to maintain market share.  Even discounters such as Walmart and Target are threats with their sporting departments and growing online offerings. 

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Figure 2

     By staking its claim against Black Friday, REI is hoping to reposition itself in the mind of the consumer.  It’s strategically telling outdoor enthusiasts that REI is the only brand that cares not just about the outdoors, but also about its employees and customers and therefore occupies a coveted spot in the upper left hand corner of my branding typology in figure 2.  That’s a strong brand position to stake because it gives both authenticity and credibility to REI’s #optoutside call to action.  It’s about empowerment in much the same way that Nike urges its followers to “Just Do It.”

     Granted, REI is a different kind of business model.  It’s a co-op owned by members such as myself and not Wall Street investors.  It’s a community.  But like all retailers it does face the same economic pressures of growth and stability.  Still, REI is betting that whatever sales it loses on Black Friday it will gain in brand identification and loyalty.  That builds an exponentially more sustainable consumer relationship than by opening its doors a bit earlier on Black Friday—or opening them at all.

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Celebrating SCOTUS Gay Marriage Ruling – Brands That Got it Right and Wrong

30 Jun

 SCOTUS Tweets Blog Pix        Perhaps the only thing that has shifted faster than public opinion on same-sex marriage is the number of brands that have embraced it.

         When the Supreme Court released its landmark decision, many of America’s leading brands were ready.  They instantly posted visual content on social media with the sole intention having people share it—and boost brand awareness. 

Picture 1 - Orbitz Super Bowl XLVII tweet

Picture 1 – Orbitz Super Bowl XLVII tweet

         Ever since Oreo’s pulled off the social media hit of the new millennia with its “dunk in the dark” tweet during the Super Bowl XLVII power blackout, brands have been keen to never again get left in the dark themselves. (Picture 1)

         But jumping on the social media bandwagon creates some inherent risks—especially with such a polarizing issue.  The Supreme Court may have eliminated the legal roadblocks to same-sex marriage, but social acceptance will still be fought in many corners of the country, even many curb cuts of the neighborhood.   Brands face risks on two fronts.  First, they don’t want to come off as opportunists simply trying to sell a product.  Second, they don’t want to alienate a segmented customer base that may be opposed to same-sex marriage.

       Some of the brands that took to Twitter immediately after the SCOTUS decision were very strategic and measured.  Among those that got it right was Delta Airlines.  Where many brands seemed to make their congratulatory messages about themselves, Delta wanted to say something about their employees.  Classy. 

        The branding archetype that is Coca-Cola spoke volumes without saying anything at all.  It didn’t have to.  More than any other global brand, Coke has stood for diversity since it taught the world to sing more than 40 years ago.  Its minimalist tweet represented everything we’ve come to expect and respect about Coke.

         Strong brands have the leverage to make bold statements.  General Mills’ Cheerio’s brand made such a statement more than a year ago when it introduced to America “Gracie” and her mixed race family.  Diversity has become part of the Cheerio’s brand ethos, which is why it was only fitting for it to have something to say about marriage too.

         Maytag may have been the most metaphorically clever.  The two Maytag repairmen are not only “perfect together,” they’re also a subtle reminder that their washers and driers also complete each other. 

         Target is another leading brand that thinks long and hard about messaging.  In this case they built an interactive GIF to say something about marriage and Target.

         Orbitz took a strategically different approach aimed at community building.  Their social media campaign may seem self-serving, but it’s actually an inclusive message promoting interactivity with the brand and offering  a valuable reward—a free vacation.   

          But there were also swings and misses.  Among them, Procter & Gamble.  Its attempt at supporting the Supreme Court ruling was really all about selling soap and toilet paper.

          Likewise with Jet Blue.   Its message seemed to be an afterthought complete with a stock picture. 

          Kellogg’s should get credit for being ready when the Supreme Court decision came down, but their message clearly seemed equally as focused on selling Corn Flakes.

          Social media is always risky especially on polarizing issues.  But as these brands show, there’s a fine line between striking a chord and being tone deaf.

Facebook Video vs. YouTube – Why Brands Should Now Upload Directly to Facebook Timeline

3 Mar

Facebook vs Youtube Graphic     Facebook has recently changed the way it integrates video into your feeds and timelines and it has vast implications for engagement and views.

      Under its former protocol, one could link a video from YouTube, Vimeo, or another channel such as Videolicious into a post.  Facebook would then integrate a small video frame for the viewer to click or touch.

      Fast forward to the present.  Videos now uploaded directly to Facebook appear as native content that auto-plays in the user’s timeline.  Users or followers no longer have to click or touch to view the video.  The changes are critically important  for brands, including news outlets that thrive on engagement, activation, and sharable content.

     With this change in the digital landscape, I conducted a simple experiment.  As a news anchor and reporter I routinely create short videos on my iPhone using Videolicious to post on Facebook alerting our followers to the stories we will have in the evening newscast.  I call it “Tim’s Phoning It In.”  Recently, during the course of two nights I posted one video as a Videolicious link, the next night’s report was uploaded directly to YouTube as a native video.

      Here is the Video from January 30th posted as a link.

      This is the post the next night as a native Facebook video.

 

       The methodology was fairly simple.  The videos were posted each night at 7:45 p.m. with the results measured at 10:15 p.m. the same night.  The results showed significant increases in both reach and views with the native YouTube video receiving an 855% increase in views from the night before. (Figure 1) 

Figure 1

Figure 1

      In full disclosure, there are limitations to this experiment.  Among them is the potentially different Facebook user-ship rate between the two nights.  Additionally, the second video may have been perceived as simply more compelling content than the one posted the previous day.  Also, the potential of snow in the forecast during the night of the native Facebook video posting could have been a supplemental motivating factor.  But I strongly suspect the auto-play feature of the second posting played a significant role in the increased exposure. 

Figure 2 - Socialbakers.com

Figure 2 – Socialbakers.com

       This hypothesis is tested as major brands are already making the shift from YouTube to Facebook.   Data tracked by Socialbakers shows how increasingly brands are now posting more video content to Facebook than they are to YouTube.  (Figure 2)

     Additional research from Socialbakers shows how Facebook videos dominated during the most social event of the year—Super Bowl XLIV.  Super Bowl sponsors found overall engagement with followers on Facebook overtook YouTube for the first time. (Figure 3) 

Figure 3 - Socialbakers.com

Figure 3 – Socialbakers.com

      That’s not to say YouTube is no longer important.   YouTube is still the channel brands need to have a presence on because of its search functions.  Additionally, longer format videos are ideally suited for YouTube whereas Facebook holds the advantage with shorter messaging that’s meant to be perishable—in other words, needs to be seen now.   In this case Facebook is ideal for news videos and brands running time sensitive marketing promotions.  The landscape is changing so rapidly that AdAge now includes Facebook videos in its weekly advertising engagement report.

       The changes are big and offer brands, and yes, news organizations new opportunities in reaching their followers.

Best Ads of 2014 — How Storytelling Mattered

31 Dec

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              Exemplary advertising always leads the consumer on a journey.  Often times that journey leads to the decision to buy a product.  In 2014, some of the best ads created journeys to affect attitudes and beliefs about brands and causes.  Their messages didn’t just aim for our heads, they also aimed for our hearts.

                 I’ve compiled a short list of six video advertisements that represent some of the most strategic brand messaging of 2014.  There are other lists of the most viewed, most shared, and most popular, this is simply a compilation of transformational messaging that used narrative storytelling to achieve a specific brand objective.

                 First on the list is a commercial from a brand American’s have never heard of, in a language they can’t speak, yet its message is universal.   DATC is an Indonesian telecom company trying to position itself in a hyper-competitive market.  Instead of creating a western-style campaign staking a claim on price, network coverage, or reliability, DATC’s agency Y&R instead crafted a narrative to lead the viewer on a smart, emotional journey called “The Power of Love.”

              The ad shows how technology can’t replace love, but it can uniquely connect people in moments of love.  The desired action DATC wants consumers to make is to use their phones and network to never miss a loving moment.

                 Chevrolet’s Silverado pickup truck this year made an equally brave and powerful ad.  It leveraged its considerable brand equity to make a statement about cancer–without speaking a word. 

                 The silent schema of a solemn ride down a country road forces the viewer to think deeply about what is, and what is not happening.  The three most powerful cues: the shaved head, the teary eye, and the embraced hands.  Together they force the viewer to create their own story, form a new attitude and create the belief that they can take action by supporting the American Cancer Society.  The underlying message is not about the truck, but the journey of strength the truck allows one to take. 

 

                SaveTheChildren had a daunting task in 2014.  It had to find a way to make the world care about a war that western leaders want no part of.  In this case, they constructed a narrative that could be about the day in the life of any child in any country.  But this not any country, it’s Syria. 

                Its powerful schema leads the viewer on a second-by-second journey of conversion from comfort to conflict.   It uses Appraisal Theory to force one to see the child as if it were their own daughter.  The goal of the ad is to elicit an emotional response that confronts our own beliefs and attitudes about the Syrian War.

                John Lewis is a British department store that has become as well known for its holiday commercials as Macy’s has for its Thanksgiving Day parade.  Once again, John Lewis did not disappoint.

                 The brilliance of this year’s ad uses a little boy’s imaginary penguin named Monty to become the human metaphor of love and sharing.  Think Calvin & Hobbs. The result is a touching narrative about the power of imagination in giving–and the department store that can make it happen.

 

               The World Cup soccer games produced the year’s most viral advertisements, but the one that I will argue created the most power came from the Bank of Chile. 

               Chile’s soccer team was placed in the same World Cup division as top-seeded teams Netherlands and Spain.  Soccer fans called it the “death group” because no other teams survived.  In this case, no men were better suited carry the Chilean flag than the trapped Chilean miners who stared down death and won.  The salient message from the Bank of Chile is that it is the bank which can build impossible dreams.

Figure 1 - Means-Ends Model

Figure 1 – Means-Ends Model

                 Finally, the 2014 Winter Olympics crowned a new series of world-class athletes, but the BBC created gold of its own for a cognitively powerful advertisement promoting its broadcast coverage of the games. 

                 Both the BBC and the American network NBC used a means-end model in how they promoted their Olympics coverage. (Figure 1)  NBC appealed to humanity where the BBC used mythology.   Its man vs. nature promotional approach set up its coverage to beckon the viewer to witness immortality in the making–becoming one with the Gods.  That’s powerful.

 

                  We’ve come a long way from the great recession when risk averse consumer messaging was all about boosting immediate sales.   In the past two years brands once again feel free to think strategically about positioning themselves along the consumer’s emotional curve to create relationships and sharable moments to last beyond the next quarterly report.  The result is advertising that’s not just gutsy, but smart, and yes, fun!

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