Why Are These Podcast and Creative Ads So Effective When They Refuse to Work Like Traditional Advertising?

Creative Audio Ads That Are Effective

All marketing attempts to make a product or service more appealing to consumers. Even when you just want to improve brand recognition, you hope that making the client’s name more popular will lead to increased trust and higher revenues.

Traditionally, advertisers are pretty straightforward about how products and services can benefit people. For example, a magazine advertisement for a vacuum cleaner might include information about its features, guarantee, and price. Of course, an image of an attractive person using the appliance never hurts. The point of the ad is clear, though: If you choose this vacuum cleaner, cleaning your home will become easier, and you can enjoy your life more.

What You Can Expect from This Article

A lot of people think they know what makes effective advertising work. Honestly, they’re correct most of the time. A good ad put in the right place can do great things for a company.

In the following article, you will take a look at two ads that deviate from the norm that most people expect. One of them deviates so much that you might wonder whether it even counts as an advertisement.

Let’s take a close look at:

  • The “Dracula” TV Series billboard from BBC.
  • AT&T’s rather long discussion with Malcolm Gladwell about 5G technology.

What makes them effective? Why do people feel drawn to them? How do they turn traditional advertising on its head, and why does that help them reach audiences that might not otherwise pay attention?

Digital Marketing Has Shifted How Companies Communicate with Consumers

First, let’s explore what makes today’s digital marketing successful. Doing so should create a baseline against which you can compare the Dracula and AT&T ads.

Traditional marketing has a target audience in mind, but it usually casts a pretty wide net to increase sales. Digital marketing changed that approach by giving professional marketers more tools to target specific demographics and test responses so they can hone their messages.

Of course, digital marketing has also involved PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns through tools like Google Ads. It makes sense that PPC campaigns work because marketing platforms pair search results with relevant keywords. Clicking on the link takes browsers directly to pages that use strong calls to action (CTAs) and other messages to convert viewers into customers.

According to Search Engine Journal, PPC works because it:

  • Conforms to unique business goals.
  • Gives marketing professionals measurable, trackable data.
  • Lets marketers take control of their campaigns.
  • Coordinates with other marketing channels like SEO and social media marketing.
  • Offers laser-focused targeting.
  • Generates a wealth of marketing data.

It makes complete sense that digital marketing works because it adds data analysis and quick maneuverability to traditional marketing.

For someone interested in marketing, though, the data-centric approach makes sense. So, how can creative ads that never use personally identifiable information become so effective?

BBC Takes a Creative Approach to Promoting Its Dracula TV Series

Before BBC released its 2020 Dracula TV series from the creative minds behind Sherlock, the media channel advertised the show in several ways. Anyone interested could find the traditional television trailers, online ads, and interviews with the actors.

Two billboards erected in London and Birmingham, however, got all the press attention.

What’s Missing from the Dracula Ad?

The Dracula billboards provided some basic information about the show. A quick glance told passersby:

  • Where they could view the series.
  • When the series would start airing on BBC,
  • That it came from the creators of hit show Sherlock.

That’s it. You might notice the absence of common information. The billboard made no mention of:

  • Who would star in the series.
  • How many episodes to expect.
  • What time it would air on BBC.
  • Any popular directors involved in the project.

With sparse information, the billboard essentially says, “The creative team behind ‘Sherlock’ has a show called ‘Dracula’ that starts on New Year’s Day on BBC.” That’s hardly a strong CTA that typically makes people commit to viewing.

What Makes the Dracula Billboard So Intriguing?

The “Dracula” billboard didn’t need to give people much information. It needed to intrigue them so they would seek more information on their own.

The billboard’s creative advertising piqued a lot of interest. The design got covered by:

Advertisers made such a creative billboard that they didn’t need to spend money on distribution channels. The media came to them to cover the story.

OK, so why did so many noteworthy publications care about the Dracula billboard?

The Dracula Billboard Is More Artistic Than Informing

BBC’s Dracula billboard provides some basic information about the TV series. More importantly, it turned an artistic vision into an advertisement that millions of people see throughout the day. The billboard isn’t your typical, two-dimensional image with text. It has a three-dimensional design with stakes (as in the wooden stakes used to kill vampires) sticking out of the billboard.

Blood drips from several of the spikes, helping it stand out from the white background. The most impressive aspect of the advertisement is how it evolves throughout the day.

The Dracula Billboard Changes Throughout the Day

During the day, full sunlight provides a view of stakes against a white background. As the sun starts to set, lights positioned around the billboard come on. The positions of the stakes create a shadow that shows the face of a fanged fiend.

Notably, vampires only come out at night. It makes sense that the advertisement wouldn’t show the vampire until after sunset. Still, it demonstrates remarkable insight and creativity on behalf of the artists.

The Dracula Billboard Inspires Curiosity

As a news and entertainment organization with nearly a century of broadcasting experience, BBC already has more than enough brand recognition. Advertisers don’t gain much by emphasizing BBC as the production company. Instead, they use a creative design that inspires curiosity.

Bystanders don’t learn everything necessary from the billboard. They need to take out their phones and search for the upcoming series. Online articles can provide much more information than a billboard.

In some respects, the billboard has managed to communicate a significant amount of information with little more than a few words and a shadow.

AT&T Teams with Malcolm Gladwell for Marketing Disguised as a Podcast Segment

AT&T takes a radically different approach to advertising its 5G service. In a short segment with popular author Malcolm Gladwell, Mo Katibeh from AT&T talks about the service on Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast. The innovative segment deviates from traditional advertising in several ways.

Building on Gladwell’s Existing Reputation

Revisionist History gets streamed on multiple platforms, so it’s difficult to say precisely how many people listen to Gladwell’s episodes. According to the New York Times, more than 3 million people listened to the podcast in 2019.

By teaming with Gladwell, AT&T gained the opportunity to reach millions of people. Perhaps even more importantly, the company could benefit from Gladwell’s reputation as an intellectual, researcher, and writer. His audience trusts him, so they are willing to give their trust to Katibeh, too.

Long-Form Conversation as an Advertisement

It’s important to note that Katibeh never tells people to sign up for AT&T, making his section different from most podcast ads. Instead, he explains the connection between latency and 5G technology. The two explore the benefits, such as having access to closer towers to reduce latency to essentially nothing and how real-time streaming could revolutionize everything from language interpretation to education.

Notice that Katibeh doesn’t try to provide any quick message, either. There aren’t any one-liners meant to grab the listener’s attention. Most podcast advertising that relies on influencers sound like advertisements. They work better than typical advertising spots because they get a boost from someone the audience trusts. This segment, however, feels like an unscripted, four-minute conversation between an IT professional and a curious interviewer.

Influencing That Feels Like Education

Obviously, AT&T wants people to buy its phones and upgrade to its 5G service. An ad encouraging people to do those things, however, can raise a lot of questions. Why bother upgrading to 5G? What benefits can a person get from 5G? What does 5G even mean?

Katibeh uses Gladwell’s influencer status as an opportunity for education. No one would read an advertisement containing this much information. The type of people who listen to 45-minute podcasts hosted by Gladwell will listen with interest because they want to learn.

Education becomes a form of advertisement that lowers the listeners’ defenses and recruits them as technology ambassadors.

Reach Your Audience With Effective Podcast Advertising Powered by Backtracks

Traditional and digital advertising can generate terrific results. Most people still respond positively to them. When you want to stand out, though, you need to find a channel and message that is effective for your brand and organization and sometimes think outside the box. For example, we can help you execute advertising campaigns in audio that change and morph throughout time and with the audience as well as measure the effectiveness of any podcast advertising campaign.

At Backtracks, we always look for ways to push boundaries so we can help our advertising, agencies, and brand partners, reach more people through podcast advertising and audio/visual ads with our player technology. Reach out to our team today to learn more about how Backtracks can help you.


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