How can advertisers get their message heard?

It’s harder than ever to actually capture anybody’s attention. That’s why creativity is so critical. Today’s marketers should feel particularly compelled to push for breakthrough creative, rather than take the safe route; they have no other choice. For instance, a European client of ours, Electrolux, was brave enough to wrap a 15-story city building in a giant sheet of plastic branded with its name, and then proceeded to suck some of it through a window to demonstrate the superior suction power of its vacuum cleaners. That sure captured people’s imaginations.

Years ago, ads featured “real people” testing products; celeb pitch people have also been popular. What are the most effective ads keying into now?

Some of those tricks can still work if they are served up in a fresh way. Bono, as celebrity endorser for the iPod, is an example. But the most effective and creative work experiments with or even throws out formats previously accepted as “tried and true.” For instance, instead of pushing car discounts in web banner ads, we developed an entertaining little Internet film where Lincoln Mercury’s Mariner played one of the characters. People found the film so entertaining they talked about it, and sales went up. The reason this kind of creative works is because instead of interrupting customers, it invites them in.