The 12 Master Formats of Advertising

photo:

12 Master Formats of Advertising.

I recently ran across this Slate TV episode exposing the 12 Master Formats of Advertising. The 12 formats are explained and examples of each are highlighted. The idea of these 12 advertising strategies were identified by master ad executive Donald Gunn 30 years ago and are still relevant to today’s advertising world. As the video suggests, print out the list below, gather up a group of friends and sit around the TV and create your own drinking game as you identify which ad format is in play. The 12 Master Formats are:

  1. The Demo – Visual Demonstration of a product’s capabilities as in late night TV spots. Knives, Samsonite luggage, stain remover.
  2. Show the Problem – “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Another example, man trying to communicate with woman about first date night before over cell phone. Communication drops out, leads to communications, then present the fix or the solution, the cell phone company…..come on, you know the story.
  3. Symbolize the Problem – Use of symbols or exaggerated graphics to symbolize the problem as in the example of cold symptoms turning a person into ogre.
  4. Symbolize the Benefit – Use of symbols to focus on product’s benefit as in the case of a laxative and the use of “old faithful” the geiser to highlight digestive regularity.
  5. Comparison -Pointing out how one product is superior to it’s competitors
  6. Exemplary Story – Ads the weave a narrative around the product’s benefits as in the shocking VW car crashing ads
  7. Benefit Causes Story – Use of product causes a unique story as in the Axe effect.
  8. Testimonial – Tell it, testimonial or “A” tells “B”. Real people telling other real people about the product.
  9. Ongoing Characters or Celebrities – An ongoing char-actor, celebrity or spokesperson keeping the brand’s identity into the viewers memory as in Jerad from Subway, the Hawaiian Punch Pitcher character, the Taco bell dog and the ever so popular Geico Caveman.
  10. Associated User Imagery – Ads that showcase the kind of people the brands want to associate with their product, usually value driven people that people aspire to be. A great example is Nike’s advertising. Who wears Nike? dedicated hard working athletes.
  11. Unique Personality Property – Highlighting feature that makes the product stand out, like the country the product comes from, products longs story history or the product’s memorable name or the company’s founder.
  12. Parody or Borrowed Format – Parody of well known movies, TV show and other ads infusing humor.

Leave a Reply