FEATURE : Minding the details

Do you remember the Unilever commercials that ran throughout the last season of Mad Men? The ads were designed to mimic the look and feel of the show in an effort to get people to sit through the commercials instead of hitting the fast-forward button on their remotes. According to a marketing study commissioned by Unilever, the campaign was a big success. Attitude about the Unilever brand improved by 7%, in spite of complaints by a segment of viewers (including me) who felt they were tricked into watching the ads.

I might be less irritated if I had more admiration for the writing and production value of the commercials. After all, they are attempting to look like one of the most gorgeous and well-written shows on TV. I would’ve admired a spoof that captured the real flavor of the original. Instead, I thought the ads looked muddy and uninteresting.

Advertisers—and college communicators—are up against incredible odds as viewers take more control over what they do or don’t watch. You’ll get the best return on your advertising investment if your materials are impeccably crafted. Would Unilever’s success have been even more impressive with a better-crafted campaign?

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