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Friday5: Advertising Lessons We all can Learn from Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition

The presses have cooled for the much anticipated swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated. This year, beyond the pages of sexy models, even this critical female found something redeeming—the ads. Both DirecTV and Snickers ingeniously remind us great campaign executions can rise above the clutter, even that of boobs and bikinis. The fundamentals behind these ads can easily be applied to make any campaign effective, even if your budget is slightly smaller than Snickers’.

1. Follow a larger campaign—Both the DirecTV and Snickers ads are a bit irreverent showing “ugly” models, but these ads really work because they are part of a larger campaign. The DirecTV girls—Hannah Davis, Chrissy Teigen and Nina Agdal—follow Rob Lowe’s cable transformation TV spots. Snickers follows last year’s Betty White ads and this year’s Brady Bunch Super Bowl spot with cover model Hannah Davis’s hungry alter ego on the back cover. Consistent messaging from an already established campaign allows the audience to ‘get’ these spinoffs.

2. Evoke Emotion—Audiences connect with ads that evoke some kind of emotion; Snickers’ and DirecTV’s use of humor makes us remember their ads well beyond the pages of the magazine. Poking fun at the theme of such a sexualized and criticized publication makes these ads stand out from the myriad of other sexually charged print advertisements throughout the magazine.

3. Have a Larger message- Humor aside, every campaign needs to have a larger message that remain consistent from execution to execution. In this case, both campaigns have a similar message of “you’re not you when…” reinforcing the ‘ugly’ depictions of each model without DirecTV or when hungry. Strong creative design executions emerge from a well-defined message.

4. Keep Context Consistent—From lunch lady to sea monster, both brands’ ads are made stronger and more poignant by playing on the magazine content. The irony comes from the punch line of each ad showing models in an unappealing way in a publication dedicated to showing ‘perfect’ female forms. Context brings both messaging and emotion together for maximum impact.

5. Speak to Your Audience—As important as content is for driving design, speaking to the right audience is equally important. In this case, the swimsuit edition of Sport’s Illustrated is eagerly anticipated each year by men and women alike—whether it is to oogle, scorn, admire or condemn, few people do not get a glimpse. These ads are clever enough to merit appreciation from female viewers (like this one) but still have enough sex appeal to keep male readers engaged.

What did you think of these ads? Let us know in the comments below.

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