Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Critiquing advertisements - it's all about the Target

After reading the advertising critiques for my online 4650 class,  I noticed that when critiquing an ad it is easy to do it from your own point-of-view (pov), but what we should do is examine the ad from the target market's pov.  This can be very difficult at times - and is one of the hurdles of advertising.  You may end up designing an ad for a target market that is 180° different from you.  That is why whenever possible it's a good thing to have your target market look at and critique your ads.

In regard to the assignment, I want to review a few key terms in advertising that have specific definitions in that context.  

Positioning - this term means how is the product 'positioned' in the mind of the consumer to set it apart from the competition.  There are several different positioning strategies that can be utilized:  product attribute & benefits, price/quality, use or application, product class, product user, competitor, and cultural symbol.

Appeals - now, I know this sounds like "how appealing was the ad to you?" but it isn't about that.  It's about the message structure of the ad.  How are you attracting the attention of your target market?  Appeals can be placed in one of three basic categories: emotional, rational or a combination of the two.  There are also a couple specific appeals talked about in our book: comparative, fear, and humor.  How is the ad appealing to the consumer - is the question you should ask yourself when evaluating an advertisement.   

Advertising execution - how are you going to present or execute the appeal?  Execution is about the manner in which you construct the ad.  Your textbook suggests several different execution styles: straight sell, scientific/technical evidence, demonstration, comparison, testimonial, slice of life, animation, personality symbol, imagery, dramatization, humor, and combinations of these.

Campaign theme - the central message or idea.  What are you trying to get across to the target market?  What ties all the parts of your IMC together - this is the campaign themes central focus.

Now, let's look at some of the advertisements from the assignment.

Smart Car:
I will admit, that I personally like this ad a lot.  I think it is clever and gets its message across in a creative and indirect way, but let's look at it from the target market's pov.  Speaking of the target market - who is it?  Given that smart cars are under $20k, I don't think they are targeting people who are Mercedes buyers.  I think their target market is younger, educated, lower-middle income who strive to drive a quality car like Mercedes.  Their target market probably includes recent college graduates and college students as well as 'green' consumers.

The appeal here is a combination - emotional/rational - emotional because of the humor of the 'lightbulb' car and the indirect headline but it is also rational because of the appeal to the quality of the Mercedes brand.  Positioning is based on attributes and price/quality (getting Mercedes quality for dime-store pricing).  The execution both humor and imagery.  

I do believe for the target market the ad is effect - humor is a good appeal and execution to use for this market and the indirect headline also fits well with an educated consumer base.  What I would be concerned about is Mercedes owners who are exposed to this ad and how it will impact their feelings about Mercedes.

Perhaps the best thing about the Corona ads is the campaign theme and its consistency across multiple platforms and over time.  Corona has been successful, imho, of positioning the product according to use/application - the beach!  The television ads that we examined earlier in the semester point to them now taking this idea a step further - for when you need to 'feel like' you are at the beach.  Ultimately, Corona is our beach escape - with or without sand (or it would be if I drank beer...but you get the idea).

Visually, I think the ad is done nicely with the elements of the beach - boardwalk, beach, surf, palm trees all present and accounted for.  Also, the copy refers to the beach and the lifestyle of the target market.

Surprisingly, this ad created the most polarizing views among those who critiqued it.  Where we need to start is - who is the target market?  This set of ads was targeted toward older consumers and placed accordingly in 'adult (older audience not naughty)' publications like Vanity Fair.  From my pov - I liked the visualization and photography in the ad, but let's look at the more broad target market. 

The appeal is emotional and the execution is imagery.  There is little to no text and they are expecting their target audience to know that the ad is for Disney without many cues in the ad itself.  The imagery itself is telling the story of Cinderella, but perhaps a touch on the dark side - even for adults.

Also, it was mentioned in the critiques how this ad can evoke the idea that the Cinderella story we were told as children (particularly little girls) is not necessarily one that is able to come true.  With an older target market, this is very possible - that instead of capturing the fun of Disney the ad instead captures the disappointment of unfulfilled fairy tales.

People often think of Disney as a place for kids or people with kids, but they also target young adults, seniors and others in the 35-60 bracket.  The food and wine festival is a good example of an event that is targeted toward adults.  I think they were trying to hit this older target - but maybe a bit too 'artsy' to be effective. 

Note: There is a whole series of ads done like this and from a photography/art pov they are pretty cool.

In most cases, this ad was not critiqued from the target market's pov.  In this ad for a Canon EOS 40D, the target market is not the average person, it is a camera enthusiast who is thinking of upgrading their camera to something more 'pro' like.  Obviously, this ad would be in popular photography magazines - those that target the amateur photographer and not the pro.  Given that it is placed in the right media vehicle, it could be very effective.  This ad is using an emotional/ration appeal with a humor and imagery execution.

The text in the ad is what points to the target market - it is in a language that they are learning to speak, and Canon is letting them know that if they get it - then they are ready for the EOS.  It's a great example of writing copy that makes sense for your target but not many others.  Where I think this ad fails is in the imagery - the photo used in the background.  It isn't as evocative as I think the target market would like - it should be something that makes them think, "Canon can help me capture that," but the setting just isn't good enough.

The campaign theme is - you know when you're ready - and they have given you the test of understanding the headline to see if you are.  I liked it, but I'm curious to know how they executed it in different media before I could say if it was an overall effective campaign.

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