The 101 of How Advertisements are made

With this piece, we take a look at how advertisements are made. We’re often amazed to see fancy advertisements running across a screen, but have you ever wondered how they’re made? Well, it does not matter, since you’re here, you’ll definitely end up knowing the “how” by the end of the post. For this piece, we’re hosting Mr Saurabh Bajaj, he is an industry veteran and is currently working as the Head of Marketing, Dairy, at Britannia Industries. We’ve hosted him previously for demystifying “What is Marketing Strategy” and the piece had received a tremendous response. There was no way we weren’t hosting him again. Alright, let’s jump right in the piece!

So, how advertisements are made?

Nothing excites budding marketers more than the idea of making an advertisement! But how is it really done? It seems so much more art than science & really something the wizards at the agency, pull out of their magic hat!

However, there is a definite science behind how it’s all done! And here’s the process with a few blazing tips and tricks coming your way. Making an advertisement really follows a few basic steps!

  • Figure out your core issue
  • Understand your consumer
  • Uncover the Insight
  • Make the creative

Bah! Sounds fancy and easy? Well, ain’t so easy, let’s look at each of these in detail.

Figure out your core issue

The most critical thing to do before kicking off the creative process is to get pristine clarity on the task that you are trying to solve for! So when I was working on Cadbury Gems “Raho Umarless” Campaign, our Brand Task was to make Gems the ‘Brand for me’ for Kids and Teens, as our Kiddy advertising always made Gems as ‘the Brand for my younger sibling’.

Which should not have really been the case. Gems are one of the only brands that is also a snack and chocolate, it should cater to everyone, and not just the kids.

Again in the case of Cadbury Celebrations “Toh Iss Diwali Aap Kise Khush Karenge?”, we wanted to convert “Aware Non Purchasers”, who were Aware of the Brand but just didn’t think about it, during their purchase occasions. In essence, we wanted to communicate that while you’re aware of our brand, we’d hope you “consider” us. So getting precise clarity on what you are solving for is the first step – what you want to do! Figure out where in the marketing funnel you currently are and where you want to reach.

Related: Take a look at breaking down the Marketing Funnel
Understanding the Consumer

The next step is perhaps the most exciting step for any Marketeer, and this is best done through a workshop! Here you get everyone into the room – Brand Manager, Consumer Insight Manager, R&D Manager, Sales Manager, Agency Planner, Agency Client Servicing, Design Teams etc. Then you divide yourselves into teams of 2-3 people each and go out there and meet consumers, read about your consumer, do expert interviews.

Through the journey, you keep making small notes of what you are observing. At this stage, it’s critical to only to write the “Pure Observations”, only what you are Seeing/ Hearing or Reading and not your guesses on Why the consumer is behaving in that manner!

Finally, each team member brings 50 observations & you paste them inside the walls of a large conference room and you have 500 observations on the walls. This is called the Mind Map of your consumer. Everything that you know about the consumer is on those walls.

Next, you group observations into similar-sounding observations to get large behaviour patterns of what you observed as a group. After you have uncovered the “What” of the consumer, you start debating the “Why”, what’s really at the heart of what you are observing. You ask “Why?” at least 5 times to reach an Insight!

Related: Take a look at the MTV case study - how the brand mastered the consumer behavior
Uncovering the Insight

The whole process is really intriguing and it’s amazing, that when I did this process in India, Nepal & Dubai, I observed completely different behaviors.

I realized that the consumers in India are so caught up in our passion towards progress that our societies are becoming insular, which is the insight that led us to the “Toh Iss Diwali Aap Kise Khush Karenge?” TVC. It’s the same Insight that led to Good Day creating the Smiles TVC with Deepika Padukone.

Good insights can also be derived out of facts. For example, as Indians, we rarely smile at our neighbours. However, when I met consumers in Nepal, I realized that the Nepalese really believe in everyday goodness, of contributing towards charity, helping out at old age homes, because the country has seen so much trauma, especially post the earthquake.

While, in Dubai, the Insight was similar but so different. The Expat communities of Indians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Filipinos are lonely in an alien world and want to celebrate the togetherness of their cohorts! Such basis human truth but slightly coloured by our individual contexts and hence lead to very different communications & activations.

Related: Take a look at What is Marketing strategy all about?
Making the creative

Once you have arrived at the clear consumer understanding and have an Insight that is powerful enough to base your communication on, there are 3 important questions that you need to answer before the Creative team can start showing scripts!

The first question is “Who am I?”, or what is the way you wish to position your product. An example of a few brilliant campaigns that did this extremely were are Cadbury Dairy Milk which positions Chocolates into a Modern Meetha and hence where ever Mithai was relevant, Cadbury Dairy Milk is too. Coca Cola did this with “Thanda Matlab Coca Cola”, where they simply told the consumer that Coke is not a fancy American beverage, it’s your local roadside Thanda! So why have nimbu pani when you can reach out for a Coke?

The next important question is “Why should you buy me?”, and again some Brands that have done a fabulous job of creatively expressing this are Dominoes, cause what other tasty and delightful meal can you get under 30 minutes? Again, AXE does it very well by saying that it can make you smell like Candy for the opposite sex!

Related: Take a look at how FOGG changed the Indian Deodorant Industry for good

Finally, the third question is “How do I make you feel!” The real currency of advertising are the emotions they evoke and hence this is perhaps the most important question of all! Does that Advertising make you feel elevated & joyful like a Coke does and hence do you buy into happiness, or does it reassure you like an Insurance player or does it just make you nostalgic as Paper Boat does!

Related: Take a look at the story of Mondelez India
To conclude

So, while most advertising does indeed feel magical and has the power to impact people & often society, the process of creating advertising is a clear science and starts with pristine clarity of what your core issue is. You next meet consumers and uncover winning insights. These insights then form the bedrock of your concept or creative briefing.

Next, the magicians at the creative agency help you de-clutter and break down what you want to say to these 3 simple questions “What am I”, “Why should you buy me” & “How do I make you feel!” And this process results in the creation of award-winning & more importantly advertising that delivers business results!

The Author

The author of this piece is Saurabh Bajaj, if the piece adds value, head on to LinkedIn, and drop a thank you. You can also share the piece with your best friend on WhatsApp.

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