Advertisements can be, and often are, evaluated on a variety of different metrics, such as creativity and liking. The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University has developed a framework that emphasizes the assessment of advertising from a strategic perspective. Our overall goal is to use our strategic assessment to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of an ad with respect to increasing sales and building the brand. Our assessments of advertisements reflect six dimensions arising from academic research: attention, distinction, positioning, linkage, amplification, and net equity (ADPLAN). Each dimension can be taken into consideration when evaluating an advertising campaign. The ADPLAN criteria will be used by Kellogg students to evaluate ads from a strategic perspective during the Kellogg School's annual Super Bowl Advertising Review.
Attention- Advertising can benefit from consumers
paying attention to ad information. Attention, or
lack thereof, can often aid or hinder recall not only
of the advertisement but of the brand and its position.
Given the often cluttered and fierce environment that
advertisements compete in, attention requires the
aid of a captive audience, repeated exposures, a clever
execution, or a combination of these or other factors.
For example, Apple's "1984" Super Bowl
advertisement has often been lauded for catching consumer
attention as a result of its unique execution and
high production values.
Distinction- Even if an advertisement is attention-grabbing,
it is important that a brand's advertisement is distinct
from competitors. If an advertisement does not separate
itself from the competition, the message might be
lost in the mass of advertising or even lead to confusion
over the brand. Consider TAG body spray,
which entered the market using a very similar style
to AXE. This approach risked reminding
consumers of the leading brand, rather than solely
advertising TAG. A truly distinct ad
makes it nearly impossible for consumers to mistake
the brand being advertised. An example of good distinction
is Budweiser's campaign revolving around
frogs uttering the brand name, "Bud-weis-er." This
created an ad execution that could not be easily mistaken
or emulated by competitors.
Positioning- Advertising executions can be
evaluated with respect to whether they clearly convey
the frame of reference (the category the brand desires
to compete in or the ultimate goal the brand addresses)
and the point of difference (how the brand is superior
to competitors on some attribute). Creating and maintaining
a frame of reference helps consumers know what their
consideration set is for a category, and a point of
difference provides a reason for purchasing one brand
over another. As an illustration of the importance
of positioning, 7UP's classic "uncola"
campaign helped position a brand that was typically
thought of as a mixer into the soda category by associating
it with meals, snacks, and friends. The campaign continued
by differentiating 7UP from competitors
by focusing on the brand being fresh tasting and thirst
quenching. Strong positioning communicates to the
consumer how to think of the brand (frame of reference)
and why it should be used over others in the category
(point of difference).
Linkage- Advertising that draws attention,
is distinct from competitors, and has solid positioning
can sputter if consumers cannot link the advertisement
to the brand or the benefits it offers. For example,
it is possible that consumers might remember part
of an advertisement but forget another part. If the
forgotten piece of information is the brand itself,
or the positioning of the brand, this could reduce
the potential effectiveness of the advertisement.
Some creative efforts to attract attention or create
distinctiveness might come at the cost of linkage.
For example, advertisers might attempt to garner attention
by telling an entertaining story and revealing the
brand only at the end of the advertising. Ameriquest
employed this strategy during the 2006 Super Bowl
by showing situations that could be misinterpreted
and ending by telling consumers not to judge too quickly.
This execution risked poor linkage of the brand to
the advertisement, with one ad critic even awarding
the brand the unenviable award of, "The ad I liked
the most, but whose brand I forgot the fastest." Hence,
regardless of whether an advertisement grabs attention
or is distinct, it is important to consider whether
there is good linkage present.
Amplification- Consumers often "amplify," or
think about the message content, after receiving it.
That is, consumers have their own thoughts or idiosyncratic
responses to advertisements. As a result, consumers'
own cognitive responses play a critical role in determining
whether the ad has a favorable or unfavorable affect
on consumers' opinions and likeability of the brand.
For example, Grape-Nuts, trying to find
a new way to advertise their brand in the 1980s, tested
several television ads in a series of test markets.
They found that some of these ads led consumers to
produce negative thoughts to the message.
Net Equity- Over time, brands develop a history
and equity. For example, BMW is often
associated with being the ultimate driving machine
and Budweiser is often associated with
being the king of beers. This equity has important
affects on consumers' reactions and behavior (e.g.,
their reactions to blind taste tests). As it often
takes years, even decades, to build equity it is important
to consider how a particular advertisement or advertising
campaign relates to and builds upon the net equity
of a brand. Brand equity can be leveraged to strengthen
position in an advertisement, and advertising can
be used to reinforce the total or net equity of the
brand. Walking away from equity might have adverse
effects for a brand. For instance, Tic Tac
initially positioned their breath mints as producing
fresh breath and being powerful. However, in the 1990s
the brand began to portray itself as low calorie.
Because people likely do not associate low calories
with a powerful breath mint, this might have aided
Altoids which positioned itself squarely
on power and was able to steal share from Tic
Tac. Hence, it is important to consider whether
an execution maintains, builds, or damages the equity
of the brand.