What makes an advertising message stick?


    In advertising, creating a message that resonates with the target audience can be the difference between a successful campaign and a failure. One way to make an advertising message stick is to create a simple, memorable message that aligns with the brand’s values and the audience’s interests. Additionally, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotionality, and storytelling can contribute to an effective advertising message. This article explores these elements and provides examples of successful campaigns that have utilized them.

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    Creating a simple and memorable advertising message can be an effective way to capture the attention of consumers and leave a lasting impression. This can be achieved through techniques such as the use of catchy slogans, jingles, and symbols, as well as repetition and alignment with the values and interests of the target audience.

    One example of a simple and effective advertising message is Coca-Cola’s iconic “Open Happiness” slogan. The message is short, easy to remember, and aligns with the brand’s image as a source of refreshment and enjoyment. Additionally, the slogan is used consistently across various marketing materials, including television commercials, billboards, and social media posts, which helps reinforce the message in the minds of consumers.

    Another example is Apple’s “Think Different” slogan. The slogan was used during the late 90s and early 2000s to promote Apple’s brand as innovative and non-conformist. The message was simple and memorable and encapsulated the brand’s ethos and its target market’s values.


    An unexpected advertising message can be highly effective in capturing consumers’ attention and sticking in their minds. This is because it breaks through the clutter of typical and repetitive advertising messages, and it makes the brand or product stand out in the minds of consumers.

    For example, Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign was unexpected and highly successful. By using a tongue-in-cheek, offbeat approach, Old Spice was able to differentiate itself from other men’s grooming products and make a lasting impression on viewers. This campaign significantly increased brand awareness, website traffic, and sales.

    Another example is the “Think Different” campaign from Apple, launched in 1997 to commemorate the return of Steve Jobs to the company. The campaign featured black and white photographs of notable figures such as Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr., and Bob Dylan with the tagline “Think Different.” The campaign was unexpected and effective in positioning Apple as a company that values creativity and innovation, which helped to boost its brand image and sales.

    These examples show that an unexpected advertising message can capture consumers’ attention and stay in their minds. By breaking through the clutter of typical advertising messages, unexpected campaigns can differentiate a brand and make a lasting impression on consumers.


    To create an effective advertising message, it is important to make it concrete, specific and relatable to the target audience. This can be achieved through statistics, testimonials, and real-life examples.

    For instance, if you’re marketing a new brand of toothpaste, you could use concrete and specific evidence, such as clinical trial data to support the claim that your toothpaste is more effective at fighting cavities than the leading brand. Additionally, you could use testimonials from satisfied customers who have experienced the benefits of your toothpaste, such as whiter teeth or fresher breath.

    Another example is if you promote a new car model, you could use specific data to demonstrate the car’s fuel efficiency, safety features, and warranty. Using relatable examples such as “this car can save you $1000 in fuel costs per year” or “this car has been rated 5-star in safety by NHTSA” can make the message more concrete and relatable to the target audience.

    In addition, making the message visually appealing, easy to understand, and consistent across different platforms can help increase its effectiveness. This can be achieved through the use of simple, easy-to-read graphics and the use of a consistent colour scheme and branding across all marketing materials.


    A credible advertising message is based on facts, research, and evidence and is delivered trustworthy and transparently. By providing consumers with accurate information about a product or service and by being upfront about any limitations or potential drawbacks, a credible advertising message can build trust and credibility with the target audience.

    For example, a pharmaceutical company that conducts clinical trials and publishes the results in peer-reviewed journals to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of a new drug is providing a credible message to consumers. Another example is a company that uses third-party certifications or endorsements to back up claims about its products’ environmental or social impact. A third example is a brand that allows customers to see the entire supply chain and manufacturing process, which can help build trust and credibility with consumers.

    It’s important to note that credible advertising messages are more likely to be believed by consumers and can lead to better long-term outcomes, such as increased customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth. Studies have shown that consumers are likelier to purchase from and remain loyal to companies they perceive as credible and trustworthy.


    An emotional advertising message can be an effective way to connect with consumers and make a lasting impression. Research has shown that people are more likely to remember and respond positively to messages that evoke happiness, nostalgia, and excitement.

    For example, a study by the Journal of Advertising Research found that ads that evoked positive emotions were more likely to be remembered and had a greater impact on consumers’ purchasing decisions. In addition, a Journal of Consumer Research study found that advertisements that evoked feelings of nostalgia were more effective at building brand loyalty than those that focused on rational benefits.

    One example of an emotional marketing campaign that was successful is Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign, which encouraged consumers to buy Coca-Cola products with their friends’ names on them. The campaign evoked feelings of nostalgia and personalization, which helped to increase sales and brand loyalty.

    Another example is the “Like a Girl” campaign by Always, which aimed to empower young girls and change the perception of the phrase “like a girl” from being an insult to a positive thing. The campaign successfully changed the perception and was widely praised by the public and experts.


    Storytelling in marketing can be a powerful tool for connecting with consumers and making a message stick in their minds. By weaving a compelling narrative, brands can connect emotionally with their audience and make their message more memorable.

    For example, AirBnB’s “Don’t Go There, Live There” campaign, launched in 2015, used storytelling to communicate the company’s brand promise of providing unique and authentic travel experiences. The campaign featured videos of travellers experiencing the local culture of their visiting places, such as staying in a traditional Japanese ryokan or a treehouse in Costa Rica. This campaign helped to position Airbnb as a platform that provides authentic travel experiences and contributed to the company’s growth and success.

    Another example is Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign, launched in 1988. This campaign used storytelling to communicate the brand’s message of self-empowerment and motivation. It featured a series of commercials of athletes, like Michael Jordan, and everyday people achieving their goals with the tagline “Just Do It,” which encourages people to take action and pursue their passions. This campaign helped to establish Nike as a brand that stands for self-empowerment and motivation and is still used today.

    Research also supports the effectiveness of storytelling in marketing. A study by the Journal of Marketing found that storytelling can increase brand recall by as much as 2.5 times compared to non-story-telling ads.


    In conclusion, creating an advertising message that sticks in the minds of consumers is an essential goal for any company or brand. Companies can effectively differentiate themselves from competitors and create long-lasting customer relationships by utilizing simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotionality, and storytelling. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a successful advertising message, incorporating these techniques into a company’s advertising strategy can significantly improve its effectiveness and impact. Ultimately, the key to creating a message that sticks is understanding the target audience and delivering a message that resonates emotionally, intellectually, and personally.

    More resources

    Why simplicity and creativity are vital for marketing efficiency

    Using ‘unexpectedness’​ to drive virality on LinkedIn

    The Effects of Advertising Stimulus Concreteness and Familiarity on Consumer Attitudes and Intentions

    A narrative approach for overcoming the message credibility problem in green advertising

    The Importance of Emotion in Advertising

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