Council Post: Eight Ad Campaigns That Taught These Entrepreneurs Valuable Lessons

While they may be effective in drawing in more customers, many ad campaigns come and go, doing just enough to catch the audience’s attention and increase brand awareness. However, there are other campaigns that truly stick with an audience—be it a niche group or even an entire generation. These campaigns are not just memorable, but they’ve often become part of popular culture.

Whether it’s with their humor, their emotion or their important message, these ads inspire and entertain all while teaching other companies what makes a truly effective campaign. Below, eight members of Young Entrepreneur Council describe the ad campaigns they greatly admire and the lessons they’ve learned about advertising and beyond.

1. ‘Get a Mac’

The old “Mac vs. PC” commercials from the “Get a Mac” campaign with Justin Long as the Mac and John Hodgman as the PC were brilliant. They provided a perfect juxtaposition between the two brands that made it so easy to understand the biggest differences between their products. Macs were easy. Open the box and it’s ready to use. PCs were difficult. Open the box and there was tons of documentation to read. There were drivers to download, software to install and the list went on and on. Macs were also cool. Pick your color. PCs were boring and ugly. Both the visuals and the messages worked together to deliver a simple but powerful message of differentiation. Those commercials are a perfect example of brand positioning, and they helped Macs expand far beyond the ad agency and graphic designer audiences they appealed to previously. – Jonathan Prichard, MattressInsider.com

2. ‘Like A Girl’

There are many to choose from, but the campaign that I admire is “Like a Girl” by Always. It’s a brilliantly curated campaign that triggers all the right emotions. The campaign talks about the issues that girls face and strives to motivate the audience with a powerful message. The lesson learned? It’s okay to talk about social issues and take a stand. Just because no one is talking about it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t either. Campaigns like this create a substantial emotional appeal, which in turn breeds unending brand loyalty. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

3. ‘Find Your Reason’

I find Fitbit’s “Find Your Reason” campaign truly admirable. What made it such an amazing campaign is that Fitbit gave the spotlight to its customers by featuring their success stories. The campaign motivated many who have been really struggling to find their “reason.” It also elevated Fitbit’s brand loyalty by bringing unknown hustlers into the spotlight. The lesson learned? User-generated content with good storytelling works wonders. – Jared Atchison, WPForms

4. ‘Just Do It’

Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign is inspiring to any young person who wants to be motivated and inspired to achieve something in life. Because of the wording and visual imagery used, Nike was able to create an ad campaign that appeals to the interests of most young people. Nike shows off their slogan “Just Do It” by talking about the sport of basketball. So, when the viewers watch the advertisement and think about what the slogan means, it makes sense to them. The advertisement does not have extremely flashy or action-packed images to catch the viewers’ attention. Instead, Nike uses basketball games and their players as the primary visual imagery. This is a clever approach because the viewers can relate to what they are seeing and make the association from that point. – Kelly Richardson, Infobrandz

5. ‘Delivery Dance’

Grubhub’s Delivery Dance ad a few years back—and the resulting reaction—has to be it for me for many reasons. One is the negative reactions it got at the time, with many complaining on social media about the live TV ad being “lame” or “cringe.” One would think it was a disaster as the social vitriol poured in by the minute, but it’s the events that followed this first wave of attack that I find fascinating. If you watched any live TV at the time and were also a social media user, you’d have seen the hilarious and oftentimes mean comments and memes made about the ad’s characters and their over-the-top reactions to the food being delivered to them. But, their distribution grew because of the conversation sparked on Twitter. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS

6. ‘Mayhem’

The Allstate “Mayhem” campaign was one of my favorites in recent times. The casting, story angle and connection to the brand’s value proposition were all aligned. What made this campaign work so well is that it displayed common occurrences that happen with everyday activities (like texting while driving), then hilariously personified the cause of the problem with the performance of Dean Winters. While a lot of ads aim for humor, they don’t really hit the mark of making you understand there’s a problem and that you need to do something about it. However, this campaign demonstrated that effortlessly. – Andy Karuza, NachoNacho

7. ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’

One of the best campaigns I’ve ever seen is the Old Spice commercials with “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.” They move fast, are clever and are humorous. Most of all, they are memorable and were some of the most talked about commercials when they came out. A lesson I learned from that campaign is that you don’t have to take yourself seriously to take your brand seriously. People like to have fun, and associating your brand with fun and wit is a good way to go. – Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure

8. ‘Thank You, Mom’

“The hardest job in the world is the best job in the world. Thank you, Mom,” is a line that gets me every time! Is there a more emotional ad than what P&G created with the storylines of Olympic athletes and the mothers who supported them? The storytelling shows how moms, through their love and unfaltering support and reassurance, played a role in that one crowning moment that makes champions out of otherwise ordinary people. These simple ads take the viewers on a journey and connect them back to mothers in everyday life. It’s a work of art and advertising at its best. The lesson I learned is the power of emotional connection and empathy that a brand can create with its consumers by using a universal theme (in this case, “the sacrifice and support of mothers”) like P&G did with its household products. – Brian David Crane, Spread Great Ideas

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