Advertising has come a long way since 1729, when Ben Franklin was the first person to use illustrations in ads. Today commercials often strive to be as unique and clever as possible. There are those who prefer watching the Super Bowl for its advertising instead of the game. The Clio Awards have been recognizing creativity in this field on an annual basis since 1960. For many advertising agencies a Clio is the most sought after prize. What many people don't realize is that such highly creative and entertaining ads are often not effective.
In 1997 the Chihuahua was first used by Taco Bell in its advertising. Initially, the dog was only intended to star in one non-national ad, but the new mascot was so well received that many of us ended up seeing Taco Bell's adorable dog on numerous occasions. America fell in love with the small animal. At one point, over 13 million Chihuahua toy figures were sold. In the eyes of many, this promotional campaign was highly successful. Unfortunately, even though the ads were well liked, they were not causing more customers to visit Taco Bell. In July of 2000 the campaign was terminated due to disappointing sales. A new promotional approach was implemented which focused on the value-menu and new food offerings. After these new commercials aired, same-store sales rebounded. At the time, the decision to retire the beloved mascot was unpopular and controversial, but ultimately the choice proved to be the correct one.
The Taco Bell story illustrates that while creative ads may be funny and entertaining, in the end they may do little to benefit businesses. In fact, sales are often negatively impacted. The primary goal of advertising should be to drive sales, not to entertain. When ads are excessively creative and elaborate, people will often not remember the product or brand being featured. Sometimes it is better to focus on the value or quality of the brand, instead of attempting to deliver the marketing communication creatively. This may lead to higher sales, which is ultimately better than a Clio.