The thing that I love about advertising is that it’s constantly evolving into something new. An ad that makes it to market takes a creative team’s vision, overlays a client’s business goals, and combines it with the latest market trends & technologies. When done right, it’s truly something to behold.
As varied as ads are today, I find there to be one common thread that runs through virtually all modern advertising: Calls to Action (CTA’s). As memorable as some ads may be, they really need to provoke action from consumers to be successful. Those actions can take a variety of forms themselves – Logging on, driving purchase, sharing a story, submitting a video, telling a friend, remembering a brand. The ability to drive these actions is what differentiates successful ads from another voice screaming for consumer attention.
What I find most striking about the CTA’s of our day and age is how unimaginative they are. When was the last time you saw an ad suggest that you “Log on” or “Visit us”, or “Like us of Facebook”? Five minutes ago, right? I’m not saying their goals are wrong, but rather that their bland, redundant phrasing isn’t going to provoke any action. Why is ‘Click Here’ so common in an industry that’s supposed to constantly be pushing the envelope?
So in an effort to get people to realize that we need to spend more than 8 seconds on crafting our CTA’s, I’ve collected a few examples of my favorites from around the industry. Because there are great CTA’s out there; some brands are doing it right.
Fair Go Bro with Doug Pitt – Virgin Mobile Australia
This campaign started a few weeks ago seemingly focused on acquiring fans for the Virgin Mobile brand in Australia. We were treated to a heartfelt video of Doug Pitt inviting you into his home for a tour, the point of which is to help lobby to get Doug his first celebrity endorsement.
CTA: “Virgin Mobile believes in a fair go for all, and wants to give Doug a taste of his brother’s lifestyle, starting with his first ever celebrity endorsement. Visit fairgobro.com.au and help show Doug some ‘Like’”.
Why it’s great: After watching this spot I immediately visited the website to show Doug some ‘Like’. The CTA doesn’t just ask you to visit a website, but rather they make you feel like you’re lobbying for an everyday Joe, trying to help him live the life of celebrity, even if it’s temporary. The CTA also asks you to visit a website with a catchy, easy to recall URL. Despite its length, I found this to be the right combination of simple and compelling. Best of luck, Doug.
Axe Commercial with Kiefer Sutherland – AXE U.S.
Axe recently launched a new campaign that takes on a more mature tone than its previous few years of predictable positioning. Kiefer methodically walks us through what it was like to grow up in the proximity of his ideal woman, and leaves us at the end with a statement of regret for not having tried harder to date her.
CTA: Kiefer closes the spot by saying “If I could do it again, I’d do it differently”, and the viewer is treated to the CTA “FEAR NO Susan Glenn”. Pow.
Why it’s great: Don’t live with regret. Live with confidence. How do you get confidence, and the girl of your dreams? Use Axe. They don’t ask you bluntly to buy anything or visit their website. Instead, they encourage you to live the life you picture for yourself. Use Axe to make that happen. I enjoyed this because of how indirect it was. This is the art of storytelling, as much of advertising is.
Book Burning Party – Troy, Michigan Public Library
A 2011 integrated campaign by Leo Burnett helped the town of Troy, Michigan keep its beloved library open. But not in a way that you would expect. The campaign sought to change the conversation from a tax-focused negative spin to a positive, cultured focus on the ethical treatment of books.
CTA: Although the campaign took the form of everything from lawn signs to Facebook posts, the CTA remained inflammatory (pun intended): “Vote to close Troy Library August 2. Book burning party August 5”. Whoa, whoa, whoa….what? Hasn’t burning books been a hallmark of oppressive regimes for the last 1,000 years? Short answer – yes.
Why it’s great: This CTA actually asked people to do the opposite of what the campaign’s goals were. It wasn’t just burning books, it was the idea that there was going to be a party for people to celebrate the deed. They predicted that by putting an uber-negative spin on the CTA, it would actually enrage people and drive conversation around the opposite action (which was really the action they wanted). Thousands of Troy residents were compelled to express their views against burning books. The story was picked up by national and international news syndicates, fueling the conversation well beyond the limits of Troy, MI. The big reveal came a few days before the election, showing that it wasn’t actually a party to burn books but rather a rallying cry to keep the library open. Needless to say the voters turned out in droves and voted to keep the library open.
So you can see that there are some brands and agencies out there willing to put some real thought into their CTA’s. I wish there were more. If you agree with me and work in advertising or marketing, I hope that next time you see someone slap a ‘click here’ or a ‘visit us at’ on an ad, you will remember this article and say to your copywriter, “what else you got?”
Written by Devin Quinn