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Newsletter #899: The “Make Better Ads” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

It’s tough to make an ad worth remembering — much less talking about. With so many ads (and so many bad ones), it’s hard to stand out. That’s why we usually say you’re better off saving your money and investing it in great service, better products, and remarkable experiences.

But done well, advertising can create word of mouth. When it’s truly outstanding, we talk about it. A few ideas on how to do it:

1. Feature interesting people
2. Ask your fans for help
3. Make it useful
4. Check it out: The e-mail lottery

1. Feature interesting people

Everyone uses exotic models in their ads — that’s not all that unusual or remarkable. But using real people with interesting stories? That’s something different. That’s how high-fashion brand Lanvin is showing off their new fall lineup. Their catalog is filled with “real people” — DJ’s, entrepreneurs, musicians, activists, and bloggers. Each model has a unique story, and it’s led to big-time blogs investigating and sharing the personalities behind the photos.

The lesson: Even if you could afford a famous model for your ad, so can somebody else. Instead, focus on showing us something or someone we’ve never seen before.

Learn more: Jezebel

2. Ask your fans for help

The best ideas for your ads could come from the people you’re trying to reach with them. When Miller Lite became the official sponsor of the Mexican soccer team known as Chivas, they asked fans for help with the promotion. The popular team has a loyal fan base, so Miller asked them to create and vote on artwork that represented the team’s camaraderie and passion. The winning artist will help shape the overall marketing campaign, and they’ll also receive a scholarship toward additional training.

The lesson: Instead of creating ads for your customers, why not try to create one with them?

Learn more: MediaPost

3. Make it useful

Useful ads get talked about, passed along, and shared. They go places other ads never can. That’s how Mini made it inside Olympic stadium — a place otherwise free of sponsorships and branding. They created tiny, Mini-style remote control cars the staff could use to ferry hammers, shots, discuses, and javelins back and forth during field events. A billboard or banner would have been rejected outright, but these little cars helped the Olympic staff do their jobs.

The lesson: Bad ads interrupt people, great ads help people.

Learn more: Ad Age

4. Check it out: The e-mail lottery

Every day, one person wins a chance to write to this growing list of subscribers. So far, there are 20,881 on the list, and each day someone gets one chance to tell them anything they want.

Check it out: The Listserve

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