Illustration by Joel Holtby.
There’s a great way to tell if your idea for an ad has the potential to be great: Switch out your client’s product for a competitor’s. If the ad still works, the idea lacks ownability. And your ad is destined for mediocrity.
Ownability involves discovering what’s unique about your product and letting that be the hero of the story.
Three examples of brand ownability done well:
1) Post’s “Diamond Shreddies” campaign puts the cereal’s unique shape at its heart. And I’m guessing no one will misremember it as the “Diamond Cheerios” campaign.
2) “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” The official rallying cry for debauchery and excess leaves little chance you’ll forget where to find it.
3) Mini Cooper. Here’s a car that wears its identity on its front grille. And in a sea of similarly styled sedans and coupes, Mini owns tiny.
The problem is, most ads aren’t as ownable as they could be. They walk like ads. They talk like ads. But they have nothing essential to say about the products they represent. They’re category promos with a phone number. And they’re missing opportunities to forge meaningful bonds between the brand and the consumers they’re trying to court.
Creating true ownability is hard work. It involves deep study of your product, your market and your consumers. The job is further complicated by the fact that competing products within categories often have precious little to distinguish themselves from each other.
But if the goal is better, more effective ads, it’s well worth adding ownability to your brief’s list of mandatories.
When capacity allows, push hard for ownable ideas.