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Evaluating Advertising Communication

How does one evaluate advertising communication reliably when all judgments are based on purely subjective opinions? The answer is to establish a consensus on what the assessment criteria are for dependable evaluation processes and outcomes.

Benchmarking Standards

The D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles Advertising Agency formulated an Advertising Standards guideline that if applied, could assure greater conceptual and executional proficiency.

The agency however, ceased to exist in name when it became part of the Publicis Worldwide advertising network, but its benchmarking standards guideline has prevailed.

The 9 identified standards have become universally accepted by the communication industry and academia as the fundamental basis on which to reliably assess and evaluate advertising communication effectiveness.

D’Arcy, Masius Benton & Bowles’s Universal Advertising Standards:

1. Does this advertising position the product simply and with unmistakable clarity?

The target audience for the advertised product or service must be able to see and sense in a flash what the product is, for whom it is for, and why they should be interested in it.

Creating this clear vision of how the product or service fits into their lives is the first job of advertising. Without a simple, clear, focused positioning, no creative work can begin.

2. Does this advertising bolt the brand to a clinching benefit?

Advertising should be built on the most compelling and persuasive consumer benefit, not some unique, but insignificant peripheral feature.

Before you worry about how to say it, you must be sure you are saying the right thing. If you don’t know what the most compelling benefit is, you’ve got to find out before you do anything else.

3. Does this advertising contain a Power Idea?

The Power Idea is the vehicle that transforms the strategy into a dynamic, creative communications concept. It is the core creative idea that sets the stage for brilliant executions to come.

The ideal Power Idea should adhere to the following guidelines:

A. Be describable in a simple word, phrase, or sentence without reference to any final execution.

B. Be likely to attract the prospect’s attention and revolve around the clinching benefit.

C. Allow you to brand the advertising.

D. Make it easy for the prospect to vividly experience the client’s product or service.

4. Does this advertising design in Brand Personality?

The great brands tend to have something in common; the extra edge of having a Brand Personality. This is something beyond merely identifying what the brand does for the consumer. All brands do something, but the great brands also are something.

A brand can be whatever its designers want it to be, and it can be so from day one.

5. Is this advertising unexpected?

Why should clients pay good money to wind up with advertising that looks and sounds like everybody else’s in the category? They shouldn’t. Dare to be different, because sameness is suicide. One can’t be outstanding unless one is able to stand out. The thing is not to emulate the competition but to annihilate them.

6. Is this advertising single-minded?

If you have determined the right thing to say and have created a way to say it uncommonly well, why waste time saying anything else?

If we want people to remember one big thing from a given piece of advertising, let’s not make it more difficult than it already is in an over communicated world.

The advertising should be all about that one big thing.

7. Does this advertising reward the prospect?

Give your audience something that makes it easy, even pleasurable for your message to penetrate; a tear, a smile, and a laugh. An emotional stimulus is that special something that makes them want to see the advertising again and again.

8. Is this advertising visually arresting?

Great advertising you remember, and can play back in your mind, is unusual to look at; compelling, riveting, a nourishing feast for the eyes. If you need a reason to strive for arresting work, go no further than Webster’s Dictionary: “Catching or holding the attention, thought, or feelings. Gripping. Striking. Interesting.”

9. Does this advertising exhibit painstaking craftsmanship?

You want writing that is compellingly written, visuals that are beautifully designed and music that is artistically composed.

Lighting, casting, wardrobe, direction, all the components of the art of advertising are every bit as important as the marketing analysis. It is a sin to condemn a great advertising idea to death with shoddy, compromised shortcuts.

Why settle for good, when there’s great? You should go for the absolute best in concept, design, and execution. That is your craft. The work should sparkle.