You Have Three Seconds, Entertain Me: How to Create a High-Impact Ad Campaign

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Brian Bennett

STIR | President
Apr 1

Three seconds or less. That’s the amount of time it takes someone to decide whether they will consume your message or move on. Is it interesting, or is it a dreaded sales call? This is the litmus test, the determining factor in whether your campaign has a chance to succeed, or whether it will be ignored.

When creating an ad campaign the natural instinct is to include as much information about your company as possible because you paid a lot of money for the space. In reality, you’re probably wasting all that money by overwhelming the consumer with data. Few people will invite a lengthy sales call into their lives.

How can you break through in three seconds? With one simple, powerful idea that’s disruptive. Stop them in their tracks. Nobody wants to read an ad. They want to read something interesting.

Entertain them into consuming your message. Make them laugh. Make them think. Strike an emotional chord. In doing so, you create a connection between your brand and the consumer. Now they like you. They want to find out more about you. They’ll be open to hearing from you. This is the power of good, creative advertising. It puts the focus on the consumer, not on your brand. It’s about making their world a better place and positioning your brand as the solution.

Be provocative. But be sure your provocativeness stems from your product. You are not right in your ad if you stand a man on his head just to get attention. You are right if it’s done to show how your product keeps things from falling out of his pockets.

Bill Bernbach, Ad Legend
Bill Bernbach, Ad Legend

Is it possible for one simple, powerful idea to meet your business objectives? Without question, the answer is yes. The key is to keep your message focused. What’s the one thought you want people to walk away with? One precise thought will resonate much more clearly than several thoughts. This one idea must fit with the personality of your brand. It has to communicate the essence of your brand, what it stands for, and what problem it solves.

Take a look at this high-impact ad campaign we created on behalf of our client the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF). The message “Without your support, it’s just an empty stage” took center stage supported by visuals that make you think—wow, this is what would happen if there was no funding for the arts.

For the full performance, read the UPAF case study.

So, be interesting or be ignored. Create disruptive, provocative work, but stay true to your brand. Do this and you can get the most impact out of your ad campaign.

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