5 elements to electrifying advertising, from PepsiCo's CMO

Kelsey Sullivan

What does it really take to create great advertising? Advertising that jolts consumers to take action? That leaves the mark of your brand within their minds?

Jane Wakely, Chief Consumer and Marketing Officer at PepsiCo, recently joined us on the Inside Insights podcast to reveal her take on how to create great advertising. 

In this article, we’ll cover the five main elements she noted as necessary to making ads that elevate your brand and electrify consumers.

1. Have a strong brand idea

According to Jane, to create great advertising, a strong brand idea is crucial. 

Your brand idea should be both distinctive and unique to your brand, and become a fundamental part of the story your brand is trying to tell. 

Your brand idea should include a universal human truth at its heart. In other words, what universal truth does your brand speak to? What consumer truth is at the core of your brand? And how are you distinctly going to tell that story?

“I think the first rule in creating great creative is you've got to have a strong, big brand idea. A distinctive brand idea, and be really clear what's the story you're trying to tell. What are the distinctive assets or the distinctive elements of your story that actually make you, you?”

This element is a core part of setting up your foundation. By making sure you have a solid band idea to start with, you’ll be setting yourself up for greatness — and great brand campaigns can last across generations.

2. Grab attention and evoke emotion

When developing your actual ad, your primary goal is to capture the attention of the target audience and make them stop and take notice. 

One key way of doing this is to evoke an emotional response, causing the viewer to feel something. For example, this year’s top performing Super Bowl ad from The Farmer’s Dog did a great job of telling a tale that pulled on the heartstrings of consumers. Once a relatively unknown brand, their ad was one of the most loved, because of how it reminded us of the irreplaceable role of our pets in our daily lives. 

“You've got to grab attention and to grab attention or get noticed, the first thing about great advertising is how does it make you feel? Does it move you? Does it entertain you? If it doesn't, do not pass go as far as I am concerned.” 

Jane emphasizes that advertising should move and entertain people, otherwise, it will be quickly forgotten. And in a world full of advertising clutter, it's critical to stand out and create a memorable experience for the viewer.

3. Make it memorable (and easily linked to your brand)!

As we covered above, great advertising often appeals to the emotions of the audience, which can help create a connection and make the ad more memorable.

However, in addition to making the ad memorable, you also need to be sure it clearly links back to your brand. 

“The second thing is when we start letting our logic come into it, is my brand linked?"

This is worth highlighting because while you can create a ’great’ ad that arguably ticks off all the other boxes, if your audience is unable to link it back to your brand, it just won’t serve your brand in the end. 

“Is the brand or what I'm trying to say fundamental to the story? Do I remember it? So get noticed, get remembered, and then and only then get understood.” 

And remember, while your advertising should be memorable, to always tie it back to Jane’s first point of telling the story that’s fundamental to your brand. 

4. Establish trust and partnership

Jane also expresses that it’s essential to build trust between the creative team and the brand leaders to create a solid development process.

“Part of creating great advertising is that I always say there's no statues of committees. I don't believe in committee decision making. I don't believe you can have 10 stakeholders who have an equal say. I think to create great creative partnerships with the creative team, the brand team, you need to be really clear who is the ad leader. It can only be one person, that person can absolutely invite input from many, many people and take some of that input. But you have to have the decision maker.”

One key point she makes is that there should be no ‘committee decision-making’ when it comes to advertising. The chosen decision-maker needs to be clear, and input from other stakeholders can be taken, but ultimately, one person needs to make the final decision (which is where the trust comes in). 

Building trust between the creative team and brand leaders is essential to develop a breakthrough creative idea, which may require several executions to hone that idea into something brilliant. 

“For me when you get a great campaign, it's because you've built massive trust between the creators and the brand leaders and you really understood that universal truth, and you get to a breakthrough creative idea.”

With trust established between these groups, the clear decision-making authority can make it easier to hone in on that opportunity for brilliancy. This will be key in setting up a system to deliver great creative, which involves practice, experience, and learning from what works and what does not.

5. Use the power of insights

Last but certainly not least, Jane shares how important insights are for marketers to assess the effectiveness of their campaigns. 

Checking in with consumers early and often throughout the creative development process gives you a transparent way to evaluate what works and what needs optimizing, straight from the voices of your consumers.

By owning this data, marketers can draw meta learnings from the data at hand to continuously raise the creative bar. And why wouldn’t you want that?

"The real value in raising the creative bar is when you begin to get to that meta insight, when you connect the dots, when you see a body of work and you can really ladder up and see what is the lightning in the bottle. What's the difference between being in the top five to 10% performing ads versus being in the mushy middle?"

She stresses that the real value comes from the ability to connect the dots between a body of work, in their case, through using a combination of their ADA platform and Zappi Amplify. This method allows marketers to understand what sets top-performing ads apart from those in the middle, helping them optimize their advertising strategies and reach their target audience more effectively.

"It's not a black box output that this ad is good or bad, it tells us what is working about it and what needs optimizing, how the idea is working."

With systems like Zappi Amplify, brands like PepsiCo can aim for the top and achieve their goals by measuring the effectiveness of their creative with the help of insights to improve their campaigns.

Final thoughts

Overall, Jane's points emphasize the importance of creating emotional connections with consumers (and the importance of checking in with them), having a strong brand idea, being memorable, linking to the brand, and building trust and partnership to deliver great creative. 

By keeping these points in mind, brands can create more meaningful connections with their consumers and stand out in a crowded market. 

Without doing so, how will you know whether or not the connection you’re trying to make is the right one for them? Learn how Zappi can help you make the right connections and create great advertising like PepsiCo with the Amplify Ad System.

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