How Three Brands Took Stale Ideas and Created Something Awesome

No brand is completely unique when you abstract their message or offer; it's sexy, efficient, cost-saving, fun, reliable...and the list goes on, but we've seen them all before. It's not surprising then that most people are bored by advertising: it's all unoriginal. So, how do you stand out?

Below are just three of our favorite recreations of otherwise boring, unoriginal ideas. They each take something that at first appears completely uninteresting (a story about brand history, a coupon, and a pitch on product quality) and make it unforgettable through the power of creativity.

It's Not What You Say, But How You Say It

When it comes to brand messaging, heritage and history are old-time favorites; at one point or another any brand that's been around long enough to have a history will try to take advantage of it. The downside is it's been done before, and if you go down that road, you'll be admitting that you don't have anything unique to say.

Or do you?

This short film for Johnnie Walker whiskey is an excellent example of a unique, well-executed piece of creative that's based on the same old story of brand history.

Many brands try to be too many things, often leaving brand history as a sidenote tacked on at the end -- founded in 1869. Ten strong messages might be better than one, but most of the time the strength of ideas the brand can build around are diluted in strength as they increase in number. Johnnie Walker picked one message, allowing them to focus everything -- setting, script, casting, and camera style -- towards that message. The result was a home run.

The lesson? It doesn't matter if the best message for your brand starts out sounding like someone else, as long as you say it in your own way.

How To Make A Coupon That Isn't Boring

About a year ago, Crispin Porter and Bogusky launched the most remarkable social media campaign to date. With the campaign's goal in mind -- driving whopper sales -- a coupon made sense, but Whopper Sacrifice was more than a coupon, it was an experience.

In reward for the small task of removing 10 Facebook friends using the Whopper Sacrifice Facebook application, users were able to appease the whopper god enough to earn a free burger.


In the end, Facebook banned the application, but not before 234,000 friends were sacrificed for the sake of a free whopper. While Whopper Sacrifice is an important campaign to remember for several reasons (it exhibits a keen understanding of the customer, a more advanced use of social media, and a great sense of humor,) for this discussion it's enough to point out that at it's core Whopper Sacrifice was a simple coupon -- a short activity in exchange for a free burger. It's refreshing to think that next time you want to drive sales you can still rely on the good old coupon strategy and not come off as boring or stale.

A Slogan Worthy Of The Brand

Like building a brand message based on rich history, trying to sell a product on it's quality isn't exactly a fresh idea. Enduring, long-lasting, and reliable all go in one ear and out the other. People here these words as advertiser speak that translates into "just like everyone else".


A great example of both a rich brand history and a creative approach to delivering a unique selling proposition, Saddleback Leather Company doesn't just sell long-lasting bags; they sell bags that "they'll fight over when you're dead" according to their slogan.

It's a unique message for a fittingly unique selling proposition. Lots of people might make quality bags, but only Saddleback makes bags with a 100 year guarantee. In order to successfully portray their competitive advantage they need to be creative in their delivery. A slogan like "reliable leather products since 1999" would be the kiss of death to a brand like this. "They'll fight over it when you're dead" is the breath of life.

The power of creativity to take something old and unoriginal and make it fresh and fascinating is the driving force behind successful campaigns like these, but these examples are just the tip of the iceberg. If you know any ads or brands that have done something similar, feel free to share them in the comments or send us a tweet.

Written by Chris Allison on February 1, 2010


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Chris Allison