Businesses generally use two main types of models in their advertising: logic-driven ads and character-driven ads. Whichever style you choose to pursue will determine your end result. Do buyers want an infographic that breaks down and explains why they should buy your products or services? Or are you trying to inspire your target audience so that they identify with your advertisements and become invested in them?
The type of ads you choose is anchored to your goals. However, what business owners don’t realize is that not all ads are created equal. More often than not, character-driven ads outperform logic-driven ads by multiples.
Here’s why: Characters we read in books or see in movies are magical. Despite being fictional, they make audiences feel a whole range of emotions and take them to a vividly fascinating world. We view fictional characters that are theatrical, conflicted, and exaggerated as living in a realm we like to be in. Audiences naturally seek the same experience in advertising, even if it’s only 60 seconds at a time.
In this article, we’ll dig deeper into both types of ads and why companies choose logic-driven ads over the other. Plus, we’ll touch on both advertising models using the residential home service industry as an example.
What Do You Mean by Character-driven?
When we say character-driven or character-driven stories, we often refer to narratives that focus on character development. This is an important element in literary fiction. While the plot sets the mood, it is the fleshed-out characters that bear the weight of the story. Character-driven stories are heavy on emotions and insights that help audiences identify with the character. In advertising, ad campaigns go either character-driven or logic-driven. In a nutshell, ads that invest in characters appeal to customers’ emotions, while logic-based ads implore the intellect. Below we explain the difference between character and logic-driven ad campaigns.
Character-driven Ad Campaigns
A character-driven ad is one in which the focus is on the characters and their story. The brand or product being advertised takes a backseat to the narrative. In fact, you may not even see the product until the end of the ad. With a character-driven ad, you want viewers to empathize with the character. You want them to feel what the character is feeling. You want the story to be relatable so that viewers can see themselves in the character’s shoes.
For example, imagine a commercial for a roofing contractor. In a character-driven ad, the focus may be framed from the angle of the homeowner and their story. We would see and feel how the character struggles with an aging roof. Audiences would experience the protagonist’s anxiety as they watch the rain pour, knowing their roof could give at any moment. Then, we would see the character’s transformation when the roofing contractor or “wise old man” comes to help them overcome their foe.
Logic-driven Ad Campaigns
Logic-driven ad campaigns, on the other hand, are more geared toward appealing to a customer’s intellect (left brain). Most of the time, the focus is heavily on the features and benefits of the product or service. Facts and figures are front-and-center, while stories and emotions that appeal to the underlying felt needs are left out. Going back to the roofing contractor example. A logic-driven ad might display all the different types of roofs that the company offers. They’d double down on the benefits of each one, such as cost-efficiency or durability against extreme weather conditions. In some cases, they might even show before-and-after photos of houses that they’ve worked on.
It’s no secret that character-focused ads are more emotionally moving and persuasive. However, character-driven and logic-driven ads both have their strengths that work best on specific types of audiences with distinct temperaments. It’s important that businesses learn how to use both to their advantage.
Why Do Character-driven Ad Campaigns Outperform Logic-driven Ones?
Let’s get one thing clear: Logic-driven ads are not ineffective, in any sense. There are advantages to using these types of advertisements, for example, when you’re dealing with Transactional Shoppers. Transactional shoppers will try to rationalize every buying decision they make, especially with residential home service businesses. Why? Because most of what the home services industry sells are externally motivated grudge purchases. In other words, people don’t want to buy your products and services but they have to.
With that in mind, the goal of your advertisements to externally triggered grudge purchases is feel right. Most of the time these are their underlying felt needs toward money, energy, and time. This means that once you manage to soothe their pain points and caress their pleasure points, you book the appointment. There’s just one thing we’re overlooking, however. People make all decisions, including buying decisions, from the part of the brain with no faculty for words or logic. Underneath the guise of a logical and transactional customer is a truly, perpetually emotional buyer. Therefore, a business only needs to pull the right emotional strings to complete the sale.
This is where character-driven ads shine through. In a world where people are constantly bombarded with marketing messages, character-driven ads are a fresh angle. They stand out because they elicit emotions and, more importantly, bond with your audience. Character-driven ads build relationships not only between the company and the audience but also between the audience and the characters. Now then, think of it this way. When the customer bonds, laughs, smiles, and cries with your advertising, they now seemingly have a friend in your industry. Why would they call anyone else? In other words, you now become the frontrunner in your prospect’s mind.
Building Bridge to Millennials
The best part about character-driven ad campaigns is that they’re not necessarily targeted at a specific demographic. Their sense of appeal traverses across generations.
“So if you need to build a bridge to Millennials, put your hammer in the hand of a colorful, memorable, entertaining character.” — Roy H. Williams
Allow me to illustrate. Do you know Bond? James Bond? The classy, suave, invincible, always has a witty retort, and of course, cool under pressure, British character. Take that character, sand off the British, and you’re left with Dos Equis’ The Most Interesting Man in the World. The 9-year reign of this fictional character is the reason why Dos Equis drove sales up 34.8%. After 9 years, the Most Interesting Man in the World has finally ascended into the pantheon of advertising icons. Although retired from Dos Equis, Jonathan Goldsmith retained the acclaimed title that all beer drinkers came to know and love.
Want another example? Well, who could ever miss out on Mr. Jenkins and Bobby? If you don’t know them, here’s a brief background. Mr. Jenkins is like a wise and caring Andy Griffith, while Bobby reminds us of the adorable idiot-savant, Forrest Gump. The iconic duo was the face of Morris-Jenkins for 5 years. Through the years people have grown to love and appreciate their banters and helpful home service advice during their advertisements. It was heartbreaking when Bobby announced his departure during their final commercial together, but nobody expected social media to explode. The characters they’ve built for years not only established their business’s reputation but also developed a relationship with their audiences.
That’s the wonder of character-driven advertising. You create personas that people can relate to, virtual friends that keep your business in your prospect’s minds, 24/7. With the right characters, you can build bridges and emotionally connect with Millennials and any other generations. This is where logic-driven ads fall short.
16,600 Google Reviews and 4.9-Star Average
Morris-Jenkins is only a local service company from Charlotte, North Carolina. Yet, no one thought they’d boom into one of the most popular and highly-rated service companies in the U. S. Way back in 2017, they only had 1,000 Google Reviews with a 4.7-star average. Now, they’re enjoying a colossal 16,600 Google Reviews and 4.9-Star Average in 2022. Of course, it goes without saying that good marketing and local SEO played a part in their success. However, it’s the fictional characters Mr. Jenkins and Bobby that etched their service brand in history books.
Character-driven ads can be the clincher that keeps your business from being the best it could be. Although here’s an interesting thought, if character-driven ads are so good, then:
Why Don’t Companies Create Colorful and Engaging Characters to Capture Audience’s Attention and Win Their Affection?
That’s just the thing, isn’t it? Businesses have always been trying to come up with new ways to capture people’s attention. It’s also true that some companies have found great success in using logic-driven advertising, like that Flex Tape commercial. However, if you’re selling externally triggered, grudge purchases, characters can add an element of fun and excitement to an otherwise boring message. Now then, why aren’t companies creating engaging characters to win their audiences? Here are 3 reasons:
1. Most advertisers are short-sighted
This advertising myopia keeps businesses unwilling to spend precious air time on developing relationships with customers. When advertisers want money, they want it quickly. They basically cut all relational sense in ads and then focus on transacting.
Putting out character-driven ads means you’re in it for the long haul, character build-up are setups for tomorrow’s sales.
2. Lack of technical expertise
If you think about it, character-driven ads are a form of fiction. However, not a single college or university in the U. S. requires Advertising and Marketing majors to study fiction writing. A good background in fiction writing and comedy would be a powerful weapon for advertising.
3. Most “professional” advertisers are inexperienced
The standard of how good an advertiser is should be the depth of their skills and expertise. A track record is one thing, but a record of mediocre results is nothing to be proud of. Only a few advertising professionals are truly adept in writing banter and repartee. This is one reason why there are few character-driven ads out there.
Advertisements shouldn’t be chockablock full of Ad speak or industry-specific jargon that numbs your prospects into a coma. Ads should be about building a long-term relationship with customers because it’s easier to sell to people who trust you. Character-driven ads do just that and more.
If you’re looking for a way to make your ads more memorable, engaging, and successful, consider using characters! Ryan Chute from Wizard of Ads™ is the Master Strategist you need to craft ads that blows your audience away. Book a call.
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