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What Makes Your Advertising Memorable?

84% of TV commercials viewed by consumers are either not remembered or not attributed to the advertiser reports a study by Ipsos Market Research. Ouch! If you’ve got a lot of the budget tied up on the tube, that statistic has to hurt. But it’s not just ads on TV — ads on other media platforms don’t make out much better.

It would be easy to blame the platform — but the media choice is not problem. The research results were based on ads that were viewed. Not missed or overlooked.  Translation: the audience saw the ads but didnt remember them. In other cases, they remembered the ad itself but could not recall the advertiser. Neither result is good, but the second issue, not the remembering the advertiser, must be a a double “ouch.”


According to an article by Mark Ritson in UK-based Marketing Week, there are certain elements in video spots that make them memorable. They include the company’s logo, slogan, characters, celebrities, creative visual styles, audio cues, typography, music, package shape and color

According to Ritson, “If you are like most advertisers, you believe that two of the most important elements in making the ad memorable are the brand logo and the slogan (which probably accounts for the ubiquitous cry make the logo bigger.”)  But actually, these are the two least effective elements.”

According to the Ipsos research, the most effective components in making the spots more memorable are characters and audio cues. In both cases, these elements are utilized by a tiny minority of advertisers. But before you put too much credence in this study and start producing spots with cartoon monkeys who burp out a melody, we must also look memorability vs effectiveness.


“Memorability and effectiveness are not the same thing.” says Bob Hoffman of Brand Knew Magazine.  “Yes, memorability is probably a significant element in ad effectiveness, but it is not synonymous with it. There have been plenty of highly memorable spots that have failed big time. The most important element of an ads success is…is the power of the story the spot tells “


We all remember great ads. But do we remember the company? This is the No. 1 aim for advertising, but, surprisingly, many marketers dont achieve it. One of the most recalled spots of all time was the funny Alka Seltzer “Spicy Meatball” spot. (search YouTube to see it). Most people remembered the spot but could not recall the product.

Clever ad, but what was that company again?” Thats not the response businesses are paying for. If your brand is not remembered, at best, your advertising is entertaining audiences for free. At worst, its helping a competitor to step in and take credit for your message.


To make sure the advertiser is remembered, the brand must have a clear and meaningful role in the story of the ad. It needs to play a key role in the story conclusion —as the hero, the solution, the place to seek help or get what you want.

When done well, integrating your branding could help the advertiser in surprising ways.  A while back, Farris Marketing was tracking the inquiries a client received from TV spots. We also tracked their competitor’s ad spending. As our client’s competitors increased TV advertising, our client received more inquiries. The competitor’s advertising was helping our client! Apparently, we had done a good job of integrating our client’s brand in the ads, but the competitors had not done as well.


You might think the research above (84% not remembered) is depressing. But look at it as an opportunity and make sure your ads are part of the16% that are remembered.  When you succeed, you’ll have something worth remembering also. ##

About The Author

  • Author | George Farris
George Farris is CEO and Senior Brand Coach at Farris Marketing. Connect with George on LinkedIn using the icons above.

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