What is advertising about anyway? At its core, advertising is about letting the world, or specifically your potential customer base (but that’s a whole different topic), know that your product or service exists so that they can add them to their consideration for purchase.
In the old days, advertising was simpler. You showed a product, what it did, repeated the name several times, and ended with a catchy slogan to help you remember. But somewhere along the way, as more and more things were created that we “needed” (all competing for our decreasing attention span), being direct became forgettable and uninteresting.
Advertising turned to a form of mini-entertainment. Short comedies or action stories that made you laugh or cry with some sort of overly complicated and, many times, whisper-thin connection to the actual selling proposition. That stuff is great for water cooler talk, but I don’t believe it equates to good advertising, as oftentimes, viewers can’t even identify the foundational items of what it is, what it does, and why they need it. Which brings me to one of the smahtest commercials I’ve seen in a long time.
Here is how I grade a truly effective commercial, and how the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Smaht Pahk scored:
CLEAR FOCUS: A+
The whole spot is dedicated to the singular idea of new technology available on the car. You see the car. You see the car in action. And it delivers on the key message point.
Everyone knows the hassles of getting into tight parking spots, so the technology and focus of the ad is universally understood and can be appreciated by any driver.
Entertainment is still important in the context of communication. Here, the story and characters interact together to convey surprise, delight and satisfaction of the key point of the ad. I’ve lowered my grade due to the nature of some of the dialogue being too narrow in its cultural context for everyone to get.
The characters, dialogue and context of the visuals leave the viewer with a concrete understanding of what the commercial is expressing. It was one of the only commercials from the Super Bowl that I could reflect on the next day and have full comprehension.
These four parameters are my minimums to consider whenever I’m creating commercials or content of any sort. Sure, there can be exceptions/adaptations depending on the product or service which may not have directly tangible aspects of their USP (unique selling proposition). But if you follow these basic guidelines during your strategic and creative process, you’ll end up with a spot that have people talking about your product, not just the commercial.