This is Your Brain on Ads
"The longer I'm in advertising the more I'm convinced that for the most part we don't really pay attention to ads or process them rationally. They're ambient. The successful ads put an idea or feeling in us that gets activated later that we 'think' is entirely our own."
Wow. Could there be a better definition of a branding ad? Take all of that arguing about art vs science -- who can target who with the right message, in the right place, at the right time; click-through rates; attribution; audience data; and what the agency of the future will look like -- and flush them, while smiling at the simplicity of Tom's phrasing.
Surely, with all of the great ads you remember from the past, you remember because they provided some emotional response (and in the case of Charmin, not always a positive emotion). I can repeat things right now that will make you smile, such as:
"I can't believe I ate the whole thing."
"I'd like to teach the world to sing..."
"We try harder."
"Let your fingers do the walkin'."
"Where's the beef?"
You can name the brands. There are probably hundreds of them reclining somewhere in your temporal lobes, just waiting to be activated by a bit of music, a tagline, or perhaps an unconscious urge to reach for one brand over another on those long grocery aisles. Asked by surveyors in mall intercepts if you like or react to advertising, your answer nine times out of ten is "Hell, no!" And who would blame you? Ads are interruptive, annoying and after the first few views, maddening. And there are more of them in more places than ever before, exposing us to about 5,000 impressions every day.
Thank goodness they are not all memorable. It is bad enough that every child in America at one time or another asks "What's uuuuuuuuuhhhpppppppp?" Or asks for a Christmas present by a specific brand. Or that ad taglines turn up in sermons or speeches to justify points or positions utterly unrelated to their intended meanings.
Who knows -- when the aliens are sifting through the ashes of our civilization, they may find out more about us from ad taglines than from the great writers we were forced to read in English Lit. After all, can "Call me Ishmael" or "You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer'; but that ain't no matter," really compete with "Just Do It" or "A Diamond is Forever?"
Only if you don't think about it.