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David Dunne started work in the advertising business in 1974, at 21, just after the Mad Man era, and remembers a note on his boss's desk that first day of work pressing for analysis on whether one of Lever Bros. advertising campaigns was worthwhile. These days, as a marketing professor at the Rotman School of Management, he feels the question remains worthwhile, at a time when so much of marketing has been turned on its head. In Rotman Magazine, he pinpoints 10 guidelines to help you assess if your marketing is worthwhile:

1. It must be noticeable

With consumers barraged by so many advertising messages each day, to be even noticed your advertising must stand out. He hails the Diamond Shreddies campaign, which used a slight twist of the traditional cereal square to present a supposedly new product, engaging consumers in an in-joke and getting them to think about the brand again.

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2. It must be insight-based

For a campaign to have impact it must resonate with some insight about the audience - a compelling, original observation about consumers or the product category. "A great insight is the kind of thing one stumbles upon in research or just chatting with consumers, and its impact can be explosive," he notes. With teenagers choosing milk less and less, the Prairie Milk Marketing Partnership showed mini-dramas of teens overcoming their fears and insecurities to hook into them emotionally.

3. It must be memorable

It's nice to be noticed, but that's not enough. Your ad must be remembered, as was Apple's 1984 ad jabbing at IBM, shown only once on network TV but seeping into the collective memory.

4. It must be branded

Often we'll watch a funny commercial and never remember what product it was pushing. It's important consumers remember the brand, and that the ad supports and reinforces the brand. Unilever's Real Beauty campaign fit with its pure and unadorned brand image.

5. It must be "campaignable"

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A single ad is not an advertising campaign, but if effective should lead to one. He believes Molson Canadian failed to do that effectively with its famed ads about the value of being Canadian, but Nescafe managed to build a campaign rather than just a commercial when it showed the developing romance between two neighbours.

6. It must be differentiated

It's not enough to be remembered and to send a message about your product being good - you must also establish in your campaign why your brand is better than the competition.

"The trick here is that the differentiation that matters is in the eyes of the consumers, not the client or its agency," he stresses.

Dockers did that in its Nice Pants campaign, empathizing with its customers, who want to appear sexy, but not seen to be trying too hard.

7. It must be motivating

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An ad may enhance the brand image but that's not sufficient: It must also motivate people to actually do something, not just think about the ad. The Got Milk campaign by the California Milk Marketing Board reminded consumers that eating their favourite foods without milk would be a miserable experience.

8 It must be ethical

Advertising is viewed with suspicion, so you must be above board. He warns you to make sure your ads aren't seeing as profiting from the vulnerable, as happened to Benetton, which showed images of convicted murderers on death row but had to withdraw the ad campaign after protests from the victims' families.

9. It must be financially sustainable

The old saw about "half my advertising is wasted, but I don't know which half" is harder to justify in a recessionary era when advertising budgets are under the gun. Charles Schwab evaluated its "Talk To Chuck" campaign on a variety of attitude measures along with business results.

10. It must be integrated

You need to deliver your message in a complementary way through the various media. He points to the Become The Doritos Guru campaign in 2009 as an excellent example.

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About the Author
Management columnist

Harvey Schachter is a Kingston, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online column, Power Points. More

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