Predictable. Easy. Bravo.

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Judging by books and blogs of ads around the world, it may seem that the best ads are the most well designed or with interesting wordplay. But great ads start with an idea. If you have a strong idea and no matter how predictable it is, it’s still a strong idea.

As an advertiser, our goal is to communicate the brand message in a way that our audience would want to listen. One of the stronger techniques is to create a relatable scenario that we can picture ourselves in. This is called a “lifestyle piece.”

This technique can easily be done lazily. And when it’s done lazily, you can easily tell. Almost anything that tries to tell audiences who they are by saying lines like, “You’re a busy woman,” or “You’re a hardworking man,” is trying too hard and showing too much strategy. When you tell people that you know exactly who they are, they’ll try hard to prove that you’re completely wrong.

Strangely, being told exactly who you are is a multi-billion dollar operation in creating rehashed self-improvement books that feed off insecurities. So if you prefer writing work that says, “You’re a busy woman,” or “You’re a hardworking man,” then write a book, not an ad.

Have you ever walked up to someone at a party and said, “You’re tall, you like hot women, drink whiskey on the rocks  – no chaser – and you like to party. I’m just like you. Let’s be friends?”

No. And if you have, you may need to rethink your social skills. Stop trying to be cool and just be cool.

This hallmark ad by ACD/Copywriter Dave Derrick of Leo Burnett Chicago is an example of really bringing home the idea of relating to consumers.

A realistic scenario. A person we can empathize with, if not sympathize. And a realistic ending that shows the product as the hero.

The best compliment you can pay a creative is to tell them you could’ve come up with that. Just shows you how relatable the idea is.

**Side note. Like any creative guidelines, there are great ads that break the mold.


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