SRH | The most common advertising mistake we see

The most common advertising mistake we see


Big campaigns cost a lot of money. You’ve got to do planning, creative, execution and it can add up really quickly, especially for a national campaign.

You may only do one major campaign a year, or every other year. A huge amount of budget is allocated to it.

So it’s only natural that you try to get the most bang for your buck!

For product campaigns, it’s tempting to communicate every feature and benefit.

For brand campaigns, every ‘reason to believe’ and aspect of your company should be represented, right?

Unfortunately, the more messages you try to communicate, the less effective your advertising will be.

By trying to get the most bang for your buck, you actually end up wasting your dollars.

The worst part is — you know this already. But you feel pressure from within your organization to include many different messages.

This is where the “Single Minded Idea”— the SMI — is your best friend.

(Some people call it the single-minded proposition. At SRH we call it the “SMI”. It’s all the same).

The SMI is the single thing we want to communicate with your campaign.

Julian Cole of the Strategy Finishing School uses the following ads to illustrate the point. Both are well-made and the creative concepts are cool.

But one of them is much more effective at getting the SMI across.

What’s the SMI of this ad? Geico

What’s the SMI of this ad? Hippo Insurance

For me, Geico’s takeaway is clear. They’ve had the same damn SMI for years — save 15% on car insurance.

The Hippo ad included a lot of great messages. But do I remember what they were? Nope. Wasted money.

Here’s how to avoid wasting your budget:

  • Get buy-in on the SMI. Spend time — lots of it — determining what your campaign’s SMI is going to be. Work with your colleagues (and your agency!) to prioritize what the most important takeaway should be.

  • Don’t lose sight of the insight. Your ads should still be creative and entertaining — don’t spend the whole commercial mindlessly repeating your single minded idea (although, David Gruber seems to have a lot of success with this). The most effective ads still use a consumer insight to open the door before delivering the SMI — in the above example, Geico digs deep into our collective experience around high school reunions.
    (See our previous dispatch on the topic if you missed it.)

  • Be rigid with your feedback. When reviewing the creative, evaluate whether it truly gets the SMI across. Ask a friend or outsider to read the script and tell you what their takeaway is. That exercise will be very revealing!

Good luck out there!