Creative Advertisements: Psychology of Winning Ads

This is the second part of the two-part series on creative advertisements. Thanks for tuning in. In this segment, we’re going to focus on the psychology of "winning advertisements." The theme of the article is recognizing the ingredients for success, which, when combined, can turn a “so-so” advertisement into a “huge seller.” Now, where you apply your newly learned skills is totally up to you, whether it’s to create the marketing campaign of a multinational corporation or just to edge up the popularity of your personal site.

The first article of the series covered the psychology of the flow of creativity. We identified the problems that may hinder our potential and provided solutions for overcoming them. In case you missed it, I strongly suggest checking it out. It is published here on SEO Chat.

It is really important to know what is truly important in sales and advertising. This can save you countless hours that you may have lost through trial-and-error. Sure, we cannot afford to be afraid to fail, but we should do our best to learn and grow. And we can do it through the experience of others.

In this article, we’ll point out the basics of human psychology. Ultimately, it’s all common sense, if you consider our evolutionary conditioning, which is basically instilled in us from the first day we come to life. Right after we discuss this, we use these theories to analyze really successful advertisements. Our object is to recognize patterns, the hidden message that is conveyed, as well as how they attract attention.

Then at the end, you can use all of these to redefine your existing theories on ads, and even design (and phrase) better advertisements. A whole new world of opportunities will open up to you; everything that you’ve seen (and heard) on TV, radio, or the Internet will make sense just like that. Surprisingly, there are thousands of experts in the field who are creating shockingly phenomenal masterpieces.

Having said all this, let’s continue this series. Just turn the page.

Advertising can be narrowed down to the following: garnering the attention of people and turning them into potential customers/consumers of your product or service. This requires a link – some pattern that creates an association in their minds – between your product or service and the expected results (which are possible thanks to you).

First of all, garnering the attention of people can be done quite easily if we consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you picture it as a pyramid, on the base (the most primitive needs) we find breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, and so forth. Then comes security of the body, resources, morality, employment, health, family, and property. On a somewhat lower level we can find friendships, family, and sexual intimacy. Social needs are important and we cannot underrate them. Right after them, our esteem needs follow.

Now, think a little bit on what we’ve just pointed out. Some might feel offended because we are analyzing humans based on their primitive needs, but this is what works and we must be honest with ourselves if we want to recognize successful sales patterns. A product or service is a “best seller” if it contributes to one of our primitive needs, and its effectiveness increases linearly with its hierarchy (the base of the pyramid is the best).

I’m sure you have noticed the amount of advertisements that carry some sort of sexual connotation with them. As long as it is hinted at subliminally and the advertisement isn’t taken literally or directly as rude or offensive, then all is fine. Check out the attached bra ad below. If you have paid enough attention, then by now you should recognize two of the most human needs present in it.

First of all, what can we see if we pay attention to the detail? (Not that kind of attention!). We see a beautiful, blonde woman with a relatively trendy hairstyle who is showing off most of her body by acting sexy and provocative. Sure, she is “just” exposing her black bra. We shouldn’t’ overlook other minor details, such as her mouth is slightly open because she is smiling, her teeth are ultra-white, and the fact that she has tucked in both of her thumbs trying to “lower” the laces of the bra (undress?). Details, details…

Ultimately, we should also read the text: “I can’t cook. Who cares?” What do you think this can possibly mean? I don’t think this needs further explanation other than it also involves some sort of conflict between two primal needs: food and sex. Sure, priorities for each of us are different, so we cannot generalize, but one thing is clear: the ad is provocative and chances are – even if you try to deny it – it has done its job.

Contrary to popular belief, the above advertisement works best for both genders. Why it works for men is pretty straightforward, so let’s skip it without looking stupid. Why it works for women is also quite simple – it is about looking beautiful, feeling sexy, and adding sexual confidence and self-esteem. It involves the sense of feeling desired, which is undoubtedly a great feeling.

You see, in the above ad you barely notice the brand and manufacturer of the bra. At least, you didn’t pay that much attention consciously. However, the picture (advertisement) in its entirety has been deeply ingrained in your mind. The associative pattern has been formed; it’s there already.

What’s scary as hell is that you may not even remember the ad when you suddenly notice a “Wonderbra” branded bra at your favorite mall. For whatever reason you might feel a strong urge to check out the bra and as soon as you start to check it out and try to analytically decide whether it’s worthwhile or not, you will come up with answers like “yes” due to its quality, model, size, color, prestige, material, etc.

This depends on how much of an impact the ad had on you when you first saw it. It depends on what your mood was back then and dozens of other factors. I won’t dwell much on psychology anymore, but you must realize that we humans are still “primal” creatures and we do care about our needs; we have our desires. Start to pay attention and analyze the ads from this perspective.

What you are going to find is that almost all of the advertisements around us, from the ones broadcast on TV, to the ones you see online as side bars and banners, or even just print ads and whatnot, link and associate “fixes” to these human needs. A product or service is the “best” when it can improve our lives, fix our problems, make us feel better about ourselves, and so forth.

In short, it all can be narrowed down to contribution. The guideline that can be used is the following: your product and/or service must contribute something to your customers and/or consumers. Otherwise, it is unnecessary and nobody needs your product or service. And in this case, nobody can help you; it is pretty much irrelevant what you are selling. If it’s not needed, then it won’t sell. Makes sense, right?

What kinds of contributions are we talking about here? Regardless, it must be something that improves the quality of our lives, provides solutions and “quick-fixes” to our dilemmas, ends our problems right away, strokes our ego and increases our self-image, contributes to the highest good of all, and so forth.

Can you see the kinds of contributions we are referring to? Needless to say, you aren’t just increasing your sales number (or page hits, or clicks on the ads, etc.), because you are providing something in exchange. This is a fair deal and you can expect it on a consistent basis. You can even develop long-term relationships between your customer and you or your company. You are changing the world by making it a better place.

Right before you start your creative brainstorming session for advertisements, try to define your product in terms of human needs. Memorize Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs and try to find at least one “connotation” for each of its levels. However, if you can mix more than one and it’s from the base of the pyramid, then it’s way better!

After you’ve found the needs that can be fulfilled by your product or service, then phrase a subliminal suggestion. To convey that message exceptionally well, you need to really think about the details. Always leave space for imagination; you don’t want to limit the imagination of the potential customer. Let his/her mind run wild.

Your ad should garner the attention of the clients by standing out from others. Once the potential consumer has glanced over your ad, it must be so well-designed that s/he takes the time to interpret its message. This often requires less than a message. The less text written on it, the better. You don’t want to deliver sentences here. Check out the attached online advertisement below. It contains very few words.

The slogan is nothing but “Live. Love. Learn. Can you see the power of those words? Each of them stands for a basic need of humans. You should also notice lots of other connotations in this ad, if you have been paying attention. What else do you notice? What are the odds that each visitor can find a brunette like that on the site? Sure, there are 12.5 million registered single users. You get my point…

Another success ingredient that I would also like to mention is the dominant image of the advertisement. You may find it surprising (or not) that almost all of the ads have an image of a beautiful woman as a cover model. There are exceptions, of course, when the ad wouldn’t look great (depends on the community it targets) with a sex symbol on it. But let me tell you, these exceptions are low in number.

I mentioned earlier during our Wonderbra analysis that female figures work better because they stimulate both sexes: first, they garner attention from males - why this happens doesn’t need further explanation. But consequently, they are also appreciated by women, generally. If the product or service in question is used by beautiful and sexy women – such as those that appear in the ad- then it gives off the impression that we should all be doing that in order to look that gorgeous.

In certain cases it works all right with male sex symbols too. But if you are paying attention, then you may find that in those cases there are women involved too. Just think of Bvlgari, Calvin Klein, AXE, and other male-centric ads. The male models are showing off a great physique and they are attractive to women – and next to all of this, they are also using the advertised product. Thus, if you want the same results, you should also give it a try. I truly hope that you can see where I’m leading.

The advertisement you can see above is of Calvin Klein’s perfume EUPHORIA. There are versions for both sexes, so the advertisement should work for everybody right? Now put on your analytical glasses. What can you see? An attractive couple where the stud is caressing his woman. She is in the height of ecstasy, feeling good, her eyes slightly shut and neck slightly tilted.

Obviously, the women is gorgeous and truly sexy, while the man is apparently quite a sex-symbol himself. Then we actually pay attention to the advertised product. Oh, yes, the euphoria perfume and its mighty fragrance.

So if you ladies want to get caressed, loved, and be in the height of pleasure, then you’d better get this product and seduce men with its womanly fragrance! But have no fear, all of you guys out there. If you start using this perfume, then attracting amazing women is going to be much easier thanks to your inner sexuality and whatnot. No one should miss this product – it’s going to turn you into a sexual magnet for the opposite sex. So that’s it – amazing advertisement nonetheless.

All in all, achieving peak performance in advertising does require lots of creativity, but it is not limited to that. You also need to know the “current” status of the world, the trends that dominate, the genres that people often find interesting, etc. You need to frame, model, and phrase your ads so that they correlate with the public’s mindset right now in this era. Ads that worked 30 years ago are outdated!

We’ve come to the end of this article series. I hope you found it informative and educational. It certainly should help if you start paying attention and analyzing the things that happen in your environment. Pay attention to the details and try to decipher the ads that influence our lives. The more you think about them, the more you will recognize.

Furthermore, the more you practice contemplating the ads you see, the better you are going to become at deciphering the hidden patterns and subliminal messages that they convey. Some of them are really basic in their very essence.

During this series, we have learned the possible causes and problems that hinder our creativity and how to overcome each of them. We have also discussed strategies for igniting sudden bursts of creativity. Ultimately, in this second segment, we covered the psychology of successful advertising.

Don’t be afraid of failure. Feel free to experiment and play around like a child in a world where anything is possible; let go of pressure and your mind will run wild; evoking creativity will become nothing but second nature. Right after that, you can use your insane sales skills (which are mostly common sense if you already know about them) to frame winning advertisements!

Now it’s time for me to invite you to join our community at SEO Chat. This is the place where you can find a community of experts and professionals in our field of expertise - massive SEO and SEM. Feel free to ask us questions, leave your feedback, or even get involved and contribute. So don’t hesitate to join the community.

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