- Slice of life
A lifestyle framework shows how the product fits into your life. For example, the “Denny’s Always Works” campaign emphasizes that the nation’s largest full-service family restaurant chain is open twenty-four hours and has a variety of meal choices that meet a range of unique dining needs. Each TV commercial opens with a consumer describing why Denny’s fits perfectly into his or her life. The ads are shot on a striking yellow background with simple, fun animation that accents what the person is saying. An actor portraying a Denny’s guest customer speaks, and then the spot closes with a close-up of delicious food footage. To show different lifestyles, one of the fifteen-second spots opens on a frazzled mom who is amazed that Denny’s breakfasts can fill up even her teenaged boys. “I didn’t think that was possible,” she says. Another fifteen-second spot features a young twenty-something guy saying how Denny’s extends his late night fun, because after the club scene winds down he can still get great food at Denny’s.“Denny’s New National Advertising Campaign Presents Real-Life Customer Dining Solutions,” Business Wire, June 26, 2006.
A scientific framework uses research and evidence to show the brand’s superiority over other brands. This executional style is popular with pharmaceuticals or with food products or beauty products that distinguish themselves in terms of their health benefits. For example, when the German pharmaceuticals maker Beiersdorf relaunched its Nivea Baby line of skin care products in Europe, it put a greater emphasis on the line’s extensive dermatological testing. “Clinical tests have always been a standard in the development of Nivea Baby products,” said Ingo Hahn, Beiersdorf’s lab manager for skin care product development. “However, with rising expectations of parents regarding product safety and skin compatibility in baby care, we decided to put more emphasis on this fact with the brand relaunch in 2005, providing our consumers with even more insights in the extremely high standards of the Nivea Baby product safety policy.
Using a spokesperson/testimonial framework, a “man on the street” or a celebrity praises the product or service. The spokesperson who endorses the product need not be famous. A testimonial features an everyday consumer to whom the target audience can relate. This representative consumer praises the product or describes his experience with it. The framework implies that if the product worked for this person, it will work for you.
In the case of the celebrity, the reasoning is that if a famous person believes the product is good, you can believe it, too. For the advertising to be effective, however, the tie between the product and the celebrity should be clear. When Louis Vuitton featured Mikhail Gorbachev in an ad in Vogue, the tie was not clear. Why would the association with the former Soviet leader who brought an end to Communism motivate a consumer to buy a luxury brand bag?
This framework is effective because celebrities embody cultural meanings they symbolize important categories such as status and social class (a “working-class hero,” such as Peter Griffin on Family Guy), gender (a “tough woman,” such as Nancy on Weeds), or personality types (the nerdy but earnest Hiro on Heroes). Ideally, the advertiser decides what meanings the product should convey (that is, how it should position the item in the marketplace) and then chooses a celebrity who embodies a similar meaning.
Celebrities can be effective endorsers, but there are drawbacks to using them. As we previously noted, their motives may be suspect if they plug products that don’t fit their images or if consumers begin to see them as never having met a product they didn’t like (for a fee). They may be involved in a scandal or upset customers, as when the Milk Processor Education Program suspended “Got Milk?” ads featuring Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen after Mary-Kate entered a treatment facility for an undisclosed health issue.
For these reasons some marketers seek alternative sources, including cartoon characters and mascots. After all, as the marketing director for a company that manufactures costumed characters for sports teams and businesses points out, “You don’t have to worry about your mascot checking into rehab.”Nat Ives, “Marketers Run to Pull the Plug When Celebrity Endorsers Say the Darnedest Things,” New York Times on the Web, July 16, 2004, And researchers report that spokescharacters like the Pillsbury Doughboy, Chester the Cheetah, and the Snuggle Bear do in fact boost viewers’ recall of claims that ads make and also yield higher brand attitude.Judith A. Garretson and Scot Burton, “The Role of Spokescharacters as Advertisement and Package Cues in Integrated Marketing Communications,” Journal of Marketing 69 (October 2005): 118–32.
In the early days of advertising, product spokescharacters were simply still-life visuals, but the decreasing cost and increased power of computing has made animation much easier. Claymation California Raisins sing and dance, and the bald, muscular Mr. Clean comes to the rescue of a housewife in distress.
A demonstration framework shows the product in use to illustrate its performance and effectiveness. Television and video are the best media for demonstrations. This framework is a favorite for cleaning products of all kinds (household, laundry, automotive) and to showcase the unique benefits of traditional products. Just think about all those crazy gadgets you see on TV infomercials—“It slices, it dices, it washes your car.…”
A new format for a traditional product also benefits from demonstration, such as the headache medicine HeadOn. This product’s advertising includes demonstration and (seemingly endless?) repetition of the slogan: “HeadOn, Apply direct to the forehead.” From a creative standpoint, the execution is mundane and campy, but someone is buying this stuff: the commercials have more than doubled sales.Mya Frazier, “This Ad Will Give You a Headache, But It Sells,” Advertising Age, September 24, 2007.
A slice-of-life framework presents everyday people in an everyday situation, like riding in a car with friends. Wal-Mart used this kind of execution in a commercial that showed a young family going on vacation. The bored kids torment each other in the minivan until they finally arrive in Orlando. The title card then explains what you’ve seen: “Wal-Mart saves the average family $2,500 a year. What will you do with your savings?” The value proposition is clear: shopping at Wal-Mart throughout the year will save you enough money for a vacation.