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The Best Ads of All Time: Why They Are Still Green & How Your Content Marketing Can Benefit

Who doesn’t love a classic commercial? From California raisins and Mentos eaters to Coca-Cola polar bears and Budweiser frogs, a well-developed commercial can create lasting memories for the people who watch them. In addition, there are quite a few lessons in content marketing and development that can be learned from them.

Here are 3 key examples for you to enjoy (and learn from):

Coca-Cola (Things Go Better) – 1963

A simple concept and a catchy tune proved to be an impressive tool for Coca-Cola in the early 1960s when the “Things Go Better with Coke” ad was first released. The primary objective of an advertisement (especially during the mostly-forgotten era where the digital age and social media did not exist) was to build anticipation, attraction and appreciation.

This simple yet effective ad built anticipation by presenting footage of a room filled with happy people having a good time – including two delivery men who stopped by during their shift and apparently fit in well with the rest of the group. The anticipation led to the question, “Why are they so happy? What are they doing that will make them feel that good?” It did not take very long for those questions to be answered, because the Coca-Cola bottles made their appearance several times throughout the video – taking advantage of the attraction feature. Those who agreed that “things go better with Coca-Cola” were already won over and would simply reflect on the truth of the advertisement. However, those who had not tried Coca-Cola or may have overlooked it in the past were now forced to appreciate it a little more to the point of possibly trying it out for themselves.

Coca-Cola advertising executives apparently knew they struck oil, because this “Things Go Better” campaign ran successfully for 6 years (an impressive feat that most advertisements today cannot even achieve). The jingle remained intact even when it was covered by different musicians, because Coca-Cola knew that this simple concept achieved all 3 A’s and refused to let it go until it ran its course.

What is the Lesson Learned?

If you are interested in creating evergreen, timeless content that will stick around for months and years after you first publish and post it, you must focus on achieving those 3 A’s. Find a simple concept that will build anticipation, attraction and appreciation within the eyes, minds and hearts of your audience. Doing so will keep them coming back for more and encourage them to share your content with others.

Energizer – The Energizer Bunny: Going for 30 Years?

Imagine that you were an advertising executive for a major battery manufacturer in the late 1980s. Someone at the table pitches the idea of creating a commercial that essentially uses a pink bunny with shades beating a drum as the company’s mascot. Would you have taken the pitch seriously? Probably not!

However, Energizer decided to take a chance on this somewhat eccentric idea nearly 30 years ago – and hit the jackpot! With two Energizer batteries in its back and an apparent disdain for intruding the personal space of others, this pink bunny rolled and beat his way into the minds and hearts of millions. The 3 A’s were achieved yet again. Anticipation led viewers to wonder why a pink bunny with shades on would interrupt a formal black tie dinner party or a calm conversation between two friends over coffee on a rainy day by playing his drums in their personal space. Energizer answered it simply by saying that the battery-powered bunny was still “going and going and going.”

It built attraction because of the cool imagery associated with the bunny mascot, but primarily due to the question of, “Do those batteries actually last that long?” The appreciation factor played a role when consumers bought Energizer batteries and experienced their long-lasting use firsthand.

What is the Lesson Learned? Just because an idea may seem “eccentric” or even ridiculous does not mean it won’t work. Think about the vast number of commercials and advertisements that have found their way into your favorite television programs, social media feeds and viral videos. A lot of the most popular commercials of all time may have seemed ridiculous on paper or in concept. However, as long as those 3 A’s are intact, it may be worth a shot to see it through and allow the doubters to eat their words later. The bottom line is that finding a creative angle that has not been taken by other competitors will require you to eventually stumble across that ridiculous “pink bunny-esque” concept. If you work it strategically and with those 3 A’s in mind, however, it may end up working out for you as well as the bunny worked out for Energizer. You may find that implementing the “Energizer Effect” into your content marketing and development strategy will help your traffic to keep “going and going and going and going.”

Partnership for a Drug-Free America: “Fried Egg”

This is not necessarily the most enjoyable commercial to watch on the list, but it presents a vital lesson that content marketers and developers should learn and apply immediately if they have not done so already.

“This is drugs. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”

Literally, a 10-word PSA that spoke volumes. A frying pan on the stove with a recently placed egg yolk were the only two visuals needed for this revolutionary advertisement.


It was clear that the Partnership for a Drug-Free America wanted to present a hard-hitting message. However, they could have easily derailed their mission of creating n effective presentation for that hard-hitting message by falling into any of the traps commonly encountered by marketers today:

  1. Too Much Time: These PSAs were only 10-15 seconds long. It did not take very long for the message to be made. It literally gets to the point of the message right away and ends immediately after making it. How many times have you seen or read content designed to deliver a hard-hitting message, but took up way too much time to make the point? Chances are that you tuned out halfway through it (if you even waited that long) and turned your attention to something else. Pay close attention to how long it takes for you to make your point in your own content unless you want your readers and viewers to react the same way.
  1. Too Much Content: In addition to timing, another vital lesson is the danger of excessive content. Once again, remember the simplicity of this PSA. There are no infographics or statistics flashing across the screen of drug use or the effects of drug use on the human body/brain. The PSA does not even show the egg being cracked before the yolk is dropped into the frying pan. You do not even see the person who dropped it in there! It is very easy to clutter the area surrounding the “yolk” of your content with unnecessary excess when all that you really need to show your audience is the yolk.
  1. Don’t Forget the A’s: Even in a simple PSA, the 3 A’s are still the cornerstones of effective and engaging content. The frying pan in the opening frame builds anticipation since you wonder why you are watching a frying pan and what is going to happen next. The attraction feature is when you see the egg hit the pan and may immediately think about breakfast or the last time that you had a delicious egg. However, the appreciation factor comes into the equation when you hear the narration and admit that you get the point. Chances are that you reflect on the same message every time that you fry or scramble an egg even if you have not seen that PSA in years.

Following the 3 A’s allowed classic commercials to withstand the tests of time and make lasting impacts on their audiences and respective brands. Following the same 3 A’s will help you to make your content evergreen, engaging and even entertaining to your own audience. Who knows? One of your blog posts, shared videos or even viral images may be used as an example in an article just like this one 10, 20 or even 30 years from now simply because you stuck to the 3 A’s.

Annie Ianko

Chief Content Officer

Annie has over 20 years of experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.

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