5 Common Advertising Mistakes To Avoid In 2016

Growth comes from reflecting on and analyzing both success and failure. As we flip the calendar to a new year, we thought it would be helpful to share the five most common advertising mistakes that we’ve seen in the CPG category in hopes that we can all avoid these potential traps in 2016. 

1. Psst. I have some news.

In the CPG category, communicating news about your brand or products is a prime opportunity to differentiate, grab attention and motivate viewers to take another look. In fact, we have observed that news is strongly correlated to purchase intent. However, we often see that advertisers bury the news in tiny supers or tags on screen. When you have news to convey, shout it from the rooftops! Make sure that viewers know that there’s a reason to take another look at your brand, and clearly communicate what’s new. 

2. Tread lightly with comparisons.

In this category it is very common to see comparative advertising such as a side-by-side demo of paper towels, or toilet paper. While these ads can be highly effective, some paint the competitor in such a negative light that it becomes unbelievable or worse – offensive. Take the DirecTV Rob Lowe campaign. How would you feel about being likened to Scrawny-Arms Rob Lowe? Be careful not to alienate the very audience you are trying to attract. Instead, look for ways to show your brand's superiority without insulting competitors' customers.



3. In a battle between puppies and logos, who wins?

A recent ad for puppy food ended with a scene that included a logo on screen, a tagline and a cute puppy that came skidding in, clumsily crashing into its food dish. If you had to guess, where do you think most people’s attention was focused — the logo, tagline or the puppy? First, our brains are hard-wired to pay attention to movement. Secondly, who can resist a cute puppy? The logo and tagline never stood a chance. The lesson? When branding is the goal of a scene, simplicity is key. Avoid cluttered branding frames and elements that could siphon attention away from your brand. 

4. More isn’t always better.

Al Ries, co-author of Positioning, hit the nail on the head when he said, “It’s difficult enough to link one concept with each product. It’s almost impossible with two or three or more concepts.” Yet, we commonly see the kitchen sink approach when it comes to brand communication. Advertisers try to squeeze as much messaging as possible into an ad to get the most bang for their buck. However, this often backfires, and viewers walk away confused, or tune out the message altogether. Strive for a single-minded message. But remember that single-minded doesn’t necessarily mean simplistic. Clear messaging can also mean a connected series of ideas. 

5. Advertising without brand linkage is simply entertainment.

The day after the Super Bowl is one of our favorite times of year. We all love to hear which ads people enjoyed. But, when we ask people which brand their favorite ad was created for, we’re usually met with a blank stare. That’s because a very common misstep is advertising that is highly entertaining, but does not tie back to the brand. The strongest ads that we see not only grab attention, but also leave behind a meaningful branded memory. 

Avoiding these five common missteps should help you create a straighter path to your advertising success. We wish you nothing but the best in your advertising endeavors this year.

6 comments about "5 Common Advertising Mistakes To Avoid In 2016".
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  1. Jane Boutelle from Digsite, January 6, 2016 at 12:16 p.m.

    Nice post, Jessica. I think your points are good, particularly that "more isn't always better." I find it interesting how many companies are willing to invest a lot of money to develop and run ads, but not necessarily time/money to test or optimize them. Some of these missteps might be avoided. Thoughts?

  2. Jessica Sanchez from Ameritest, January 6, 2016 at 3:03 p.m.

    Thank you, Jane. I agree - which is why we also highly encourage EARLY testing (in rough form) to help avoid costly missteps and wasted money. 

  3. Patrick Scullin from Ames Scullin O'Haire, inc., January 6, 2016 at 5:16 p.m.

    Terrific column and insights. Wise, wise words.

  4. Paula McNulty from McNulty Consulting, January 7, 2016 at 7:18 a.m.

    Good, old fashioned, tried and true advice. Brings to mind an ad I saw last week for Smuckers jam encouraging the making and eating of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. I stood, riveted, in front of the HD screen by the quality of the visual, and branded, relevant VoiceOver. Never happens anymore! Maybe we going beyond (finally) the 25-yr old brand manager definition of 'awesome' to something (heresy!) that explains, excites, and clearly links product benefits. If Smuckers could promote their brand so effectively linking to a humble old PB&J, who knows what successes could be achieved for newer products.

  5. Jessica Sanchez from Ameritest replied, January 8, 2016 at 11:33 a.m.

    This morning I saw the Smuckers ad that you mentioned. You're absolutely right - a great example of a clear message and beautiful visuals. We talk a lot about "virtual consumption" in our testing for food clients, and this ad definitely tapped into that. 


  6. Jessica Sanchez from Ameritest replied, January 8, 2016 at 11:34 a.m.

    Thank you, Patrick. 

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