Olympic Ads Awe With Aww… Factor

Coca-Cola’s Bird’s Nest ad appeals to consumers’ heartstrings

From the Wall Street Journal:

For winning advertisers during the Games, the key ingredient is proving to be emotional ads. According to IAG, a Nielsen firm that uses an online panel to track the performance of advertising, the big winners so far include Coca-Cola, General Electric and Visa.

Emotional ads are a “natural fit” for the Olympics because it matches the content, says John Norman, an executive creative director at Wieden + Kennedy in Amsterdam. “The Olympics are always full of heartfelt and underdog stories about the athletes. It’s what resonates with most consumers,” says Mr. Norman, who worked on Coke’s “Bird’s Nest” ad.

Media buyers say the price tag for 30 seconds worth of ad time during the primetime broadcast reached $750,000, although many marketers got better rates by buying large ad packages that cost upward of $5 million.

Why use emotional, rather than fact-based ads? According to one study,

Consumers who are very skeptical about the truth of advertising claims are more responsive to emotionally appealing ads than ones peppered with information.

Another study

For new brands and new products, emotional advertising may be less suited and an informational appeal is perhaps more appropriate.

Yet a third said that:

…females and older people are most easily persuaded by emotional advertising. These groups are more likely to feel empathy toward the situations presented in emotional ads and as a result, view the brand more favorably than those competitors advertising based upon rational appeals.

Do these criteria fit the Beijing ads? To a tee. First of all, the best performers are all established companies: GE, Coca-Cola, and Visa. They’re in an ideal place for emotional advertising.

Secondly, this American Demographics article points out that more women than men watch the Olympics. It also says that “Olympics fans…tend to be more mature,” as in, a significant percentage of both males and females over the age of 50 watch the Olympics.

Finally, who’s the skeptical audience? Everyone. The Beijing Olympics itself came with built-in controversy and critics than a cult movie. Placing any ad in such a controversial setting would induce a skeptical eye in most viewers. Also, I can’t speak for the Chinese, but Americans might be skeptical of Coca-Cola ads in general, as we’ve seen so many of them already.

Is the creative director quoted in the WSJ article above right?
Partially, but he’s simplifying the process. The Olympics’ demographics, skeptical audience, and type of products being advertised probably played the biggest role.

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