Monday, 13 January 2020 10:05

The Ads Of 2019: What We Learned As A Denver Media Buyer

It’s official! We’ve entered the new decade and 2019 is behind us now. This past year was packed with turbulent, controversial, and entertaining advertisements. With 2020 ramping up, advertisers can learn some great lessons from this past year of interesting ads. As a top Denver media buyer, we wanted to share our thoughts on some of the most significant ads of 2019. We know that we learned plenty from this past year of advertising. Hopefully you can learn a thing or two as well from these ads.

Sandy Hook’s “Back-to-School Essentials”

The “Back-to-School Essentials” advertisement was one of the most powerful ads of the entire year. This advertisement, developed by BBDO New York, was an intense PSA from the Sandy Hook Promise.

The ad starts out with a familiar back-to-school tone, as kids talk about their new apparel. As the ad continues, it slowly devolves into a gripping and shocking tale about the reality that children face in schools today. It’s a grim, unsettling, and emotional advertisement that pulls at your heartstrings. This powerful ad had an impressive impact. Within just 24 hours, the advertisement received over 26 million views! That’s an incredible reach for a PSA.

Clearly it is not the most uplifting ad of the year. However, as a Denver media buyer we wanted to mention this ad for it’s significant impact. The ad took a typical back-to-school ad format and turned it on its head to get across a message in a meaningful and powerful way. It’s emotional storytelling at its finest and we always choke up a bit every time we watch it. The PSA took an incredibly profound concept and executed it beautifully. We haven’t seen that kind of impactful ad for some time.

What does this ad teach us? We’d argue there are two main takeaways from this PSA:

  • Emotional storytelling is still a relevant and powerful form of advertising. It can provide a much needed spark to connect your message with your target audience.

  • Creative twists and surprises in tried-and-tested formulas can achieve monumental results.

The HBO “Joust” Ad

While the series finale for Game of Thrones was disappointing for many, the Super Bowl ad for the HBO series did not disappoint. The single creative ad was produced by two agencies, Droga5 and Wieden + Kennedy New York, to simultaneously promote two brands, Bud Light and Game of Thrones.

It began as a typical “Dilly Dilly” Bud Light commercial set in a medieval world. As the joust gets underway, the ad quickly turns chaotic as the Bud Knight is murdered by a Thrones’ character and a dragon breathes fire in the sky. It was a shocking turn of events that no viewer expected, making it an outstanding ad for both HBO and Bud Light.

It is difficult to tell how much this brand-crossover benefited the two brands. Game of Thrones wrapped up with a whopping 19.3 million viewers, but we can’t be sure how this ad influenced that total. Bud Light most likely experienced a decent surge in sales following the collaboration, however it most likely wasn’t significant as Bud Light continues to experience a long-term sales decline. Still, the ad succeeded at grabbing attention and generating intense social media hype for both brands. Plus, this ad definitely stole the commercial spotlight of the Super Bowl LIII.

What can we learn from this ad? As a Denver media buyer, we believe these are the key takeaways:

  • Innovative advertising collaborations can produce tremendous ripple effects. Brands should strive to collaborate in their ads when it’s possible, realistic, timely, and relevant.

  • Creative thinking remains paramount for successful advertising.

Gillette’s “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be”

In 2019, there were a number of brands that took stands on social issues. One of the more notable ad campaigns came from Gillette, a Procter & Gamble brand. The razor company released an ad campaign in early January 2019 called “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be.”

Produced in response to the #MeToo movement, this ad campaign challenged social behaviors that have been coded as “masculine.” It was Gillette’s way of calling on men to practice “kindness, solidarity, and common decency” on a daily basis. One of the ads of the campaign even depicted a father showing his transgender son how to shave. It’s an inspiring ad campaign that is impactful, progressive, and inspiring.

The ad campaign sparked major online discussion. Gillette was equally praised and criticized for this campaign. Many people had no qualms with the ads, while others found the campaign to be insulting and overly PC. Regardless of where you stand on these ads, you can’t ignore how they generated tons of discussion on important social issues. As a Denver media buyer, we applaud Gillette for taking a bold step where other brands might’ve decided to play it safe and tread lightly.

Why did we bring up Gilette’s ad campaign? We believe there are some important lessons to be learned from their work:

  • If brands hope to survive, their ads need to appeal to the values of their next generation of customers. With so many options on the market, you need to demonstrate why your younger audience should choose your brand over others.

  • Consumers now expect brands to take a stand on relevant social issues. However, just because there is a social issue, it doesn’t mean your brand should speak out about it.

The Peloton “Gift That Gives Back”

Of course, you can’t talk about the ads of 2019 without mentioning that infamous Peloton ad blunder. The 30-second holiday spot developed by Mekanism was designed to boost holiday sales for Peloton. Instead, it turned into a viral debacle for the brand.

In the ad, a wife is super excited to receive an exercise bike during the holidays. She then proceeds to take video selfies of her Peloton workouts over the next year. The ad concludes as the wife gifts her husband a video of all her exercise time on the Peloton bike. It didn’t take long for the backlash to start.

Peloton’s ad was widely decried as a sexist “male fantasy” that felt detached from reality. For some viewers, the ad felt like the start to a Black Mirror episode. Others just couldn’t understand why this already fit woman was excited to become even fitter. To be fair, it was just a simple holiday ad with a message about giving a thoughtful gift to your significant other. It just went about relaying that message the wrong way. The Peloton ad saga was interesting and confusing, but we can clearly state that Peloton damaged its reputation with this simple ad.

Are there any lessons to be learned here? As a Denver media buyer, we believe there are a few tidbits of advertising wisdom:

  • Take the time to tailor your ads to the core values of your target market.

  • Consider how your ad will be viewed by those outside of your target market.

  • Your ad needs to be mindful of the current cultural climate. Remember to think through how your ad integrates into the social context of the time.

A quote image from this article on the most significant ads from 2019, from a top Denver media buyer. It reads, 'Take the time to tailor your ads to the core values of your target market.'

Make 2020 Your Year With A Top Denver Media Buyer

With these handy takeaways, you’ll be able to craft the best ad for your business. But, what good is an advertisement if no one sees it? FiG Advertising + Marketing has been a leading Denver media buyer for years. We’ve built up solid relationships with a network of terrific media outlets throughout the metro area. We’ll leverage those contacts to ensure that your ads are seen by the right people at the right time and in the right place.

Contact FiG Advertising + Marketing today to learn more about our work as a Denver media buyer.