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The Greatest Ad Campaign Of All Time

Brant Wansley

I began my career in the advertising business under the aegis of Bill Bernbach, one of the smartest ad men ever.  I remember his admonition from Day One: 

“You can say the right thing about a product and nobody will listen.  You’ve got to say it in such a way that people will feel it in their gut.  Because if they don’t feel it, nothing will happen.”

That thought stuck with me over the years and has guided my thinking in working with clients on behalf of our Engine team.  Here’s a related, powerful truth: 

People tend to remember one thing about your brand, nothing more.  Those marketers who ignore this maxim do so at their peril. 

So, you want cases to prove my point?  Let me share a few from a recent ranking of top brands across the country.  Notice how each company has boiled down their value proposition into an Essential Idea, the one thing that sets their brand apart, the emotional center of their story.  

Soft Drinks:  Coca-Cola—Open Happiness.  Launched in 2009, the campaign appeals to consumers’ longing for comfort and optimism during a downturn in soft drink sales.  It recaptures the allure of Coke as a simple pleasure despite the surge in preference for bottled water and other sugarless drinks.  (Click on this link:

Computer:  Apple—Think Different.  This Steve Jobs inspired effort positioned the company as an alternative to the staid and traditional computer giants.  As part of the launch, Richard Dreyfus read a free-verse poem, “Here’s to the Crazy Ones” as narration for a television commercial.  (Click on this link:

Tires:  Michelin—Because So Much Is Riding On Your Tires.  Created by Doyle Dane Bernbach, this campaign invented an emotional benefit for what is essentially a boring product.  With an appeal to safety for the driver, passenger and anything else that may be riding on your tires, Michelin effectively differentiated themselves from other tire makers who focused on product features.  (Click on this link:

Greeting Card:  Hallmark—Life Is A Special Occasion.  With vignettes of gratitude, sympathy and celebration, Hallmark promotes themselves as the company who cares and conveys that benefit to those who purchase its cards.  The campaign is a worthy successor to the landmark effort, “When You Care Enough To Send The Very Best.”  (Click on this link:

Chiseling away the wheat from the chaff is what we do every day.  It’s our gift, our expertise.  It’s why we get up in the morning and stay up at night, thinking about your business.  How to find the emotional crux of your brand and bring it to the fore.  How to express your Essential Idea. 

The greatest ad campaign of all time?  Of course, it’s your next campaign.  Give us a call and we’ll roll up our sleeves to distill the one thing, the one feeling to drive your brand into the hearts of your consumer.  Into the American conversation.