If you have spent much time this year watching the Olympics, then you have probably seen a great deal of advertising that is themed around the games. You name it; almost any product you can think of has been marketed using a display of highly-charged athleticism (even this blog post!). Some ads mention the Olympic Games, some feature athletes, and a number of them carry the themes but make no direct reference. I began to ask myself, “Are these marketing efforts creative or just timely?”
The Gold Standard
You know a good ad when you see one. The theme, content, and product mesh perfectly to entertain, inform, and motivate response. You exclaim to yourself “Now that was good ad,” and a strong and favorable brand impression is left. You may even have one of those one-in-a-thousand moments where you decide to purchase, support, or endorse the subject of the ad. These are the sparkling moments that marketers live to create, the embodiment of creativity, and the reward of diligent work. But are the Olympics providing the inspiration for truly creative marketing ideas?
I have not seen every ad running during the Olympics, although I have seen some of the same ads countless times. The ones that tend to move me the most are the ads truly focused on the Olympics themselves. I am not saying that I have not seen any good ads for products, but in general, the product-based ads using Olympic themes have felt a bit out of place to me.
Real creativity goes beyond finding an innovative way to tie a product to an unrelated but timely or popular theme. It finds a way to use the theme to bring the product to life. One of the reasons that some of the advertisements during the Olympics are so strong is that they are completely relevant and on brand. They are connecting the event to their product or service in a relevant and compelling manner.
Engineering Creative Marketing Ideas
The most creative marketing ideas involve ways to quickly build an emotional bridge. They link the product to something that already has a place of residence in the viewer’s mind and heart. The best Olympic ads are doing just this; they use a relationship between product and existing knowledge or experience as the channel to communicate their message.
Creative Marketing Example
My favorite ad is “Raising an Olympian” by Procter & Gamble. The theme is raising an Olympic athlete; the products are P&G’s brands of diapers, detergent, batteries, and razors. But the message is honoring mothers (who happen to be the ones who tend to buy the products). The result is a powerful video that is not as much about the product as it is about the moms. But at the end, the brand thanks moms and provides a link to a “Thank you, Mom” Facebook page. The result is a deep emotional connection to the entire product line.
P & G’s products are not in the ad, but relevance is built through the content so at the end of the ad it is clear that the brands are involved. The emotional engagement of the video is so strong that you feel appreciation to P&G for creating it. The final brand impression is warm and positive.
The Take Away
At the end of the day, people do not usually connect directly with products. They connect with products through emotions, people, and relationships. Creative marketing is all about building the connections to people’s hearts and minds in new and innovative ways.