Knowledge is Power
Stay Tuned

Most Effective Commercials: Complex or Simple?

Last night, Channel 8 in Las Vegas had a Super Bowl challenge asking viewers to determine which were the most effective commercials from previous years: those that used special effects, were complex, and cost a plenty to create or, those that were simple, mainly cast people and animals, and had limited or no effects. The winner were the more simple commercials, in particularly the ad where a dog accidentally climbs onto a truck, which takes him from his home on the farm into the city. The dog gets loose and makes his way back. As he stands on top of the hill looking at his home, weary from his travels, a wolf threatens him. The dog’s buddies, the Clydesdale horses, which he grew up with on the farm, came to his rescue and led him home to be reunited with his master.

In most cases, I would agree with the less is more when it comes to effective commercials. However, another ad featured in the Super Bowl challenge was the Macintosh Super Bowl commercial introducing Macintosh Computer (HD). It was one of the most forward-thinking, provocative commercials ever to air. That was 33 years ago, and it’s still a part of today’s Super Bowl ad conversation.

For those who haven’t seen the ad, an Apple Macintosh personal is chased by four police officers, the “Thought Police” dressed in black. “On January 24, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh.” The tag line reads “1984 Won’t Be Like 1984.”

Fred Goldberg, Apple’s ad account manager, sent the commercial to a market testing firm that claimed it would be the least effective advertisement Apple had ever made. In fact, according to ASI Market Research, which is based on a 43-point scale to indicate how effective a commercial would be in persuading viewers to purchase a product, the advertisement scored only six points. The average was 29. Goldberg went with his gut and aired the ad without even sharing the market research with his coworkers at Chiat/Day (now TBWA). Consumers went on to purchase $155 million in Macs in the three months post the Super Bowl airing.

The point here is, it doesn’t matter if an ad uses special effects at a high price tag or has a budgeted, simple story line. Whether the commercial focus is on humor, surprise, sweetness or kindness, if it is so powerful that it leads to sells and years later people are still taking about it, the commercial will forever be considered as one of the more effective commercials.

So all you marketeers out there, be bold. Make people think, feel, wonder. Do what it takes to touch your target audience in a way that reaches their core.


But before you embark on a full-scale campaign, you may want to read up on marketing trends for 2017.

Porter PR & Marketing

Porter PR & Marketing

Porter PR & Marketing was founded in 1998 as Porter Public Relations. As its services expanded to include branding, integrated marketing, advertising and website design, the company rebranded to Porter PR & Marketing. Porter PR & Marketing specializes in working with companies in the A/E/C, technology, consumer, financial, healthcare and travel industries.

Twitter Facebook

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.