100 Days of Leo Burnett, the Midwestern Master of Mascots DAY 53

Here’s today’s Leo:

In all our planning I like to feel that we adventurously live on the fringe of the Great Creative Unknown, but if we are properly armed with facts we are always better prepared to enter it.” — Leo Burnett

I’ve always been inspired when reading the words of advertising greats — from Claude Hopkins to Bill Bernbach — on the importance of “inherent drama” when creating a selling campaign. And the source of inherent drama in the product comes from the “truth” of the product — the facts behind the product itself are the fuel which drives engagement and “story.” For more on creating story for your product, it’s helpful to get out of the marketing mindset and go Hollywood — I’ve attended Robert McKee’s in-person seminar, which was amazing, and his book is a must-read for Hollywood scriptwriters: Link. You need to understand Inciting Incidents; Conflict; Journey of the Protagonist; and Story Arc to really understand how people engage with stories.

In 1945, Leo Burnett Company launched a memorable campaign for the American Meat Institute, in which red, uncooked meat was placed on a red background and the copy urged the reader to eat more meat.

This type of ad was original at the time because meat was always shown cooked. But Burnett felt that the image of meat should be a virile one, best expressed in red meat.

This “red on red” campaign became the classic example for Burnett’s technique of Inherent Drama. Here’s the campaign: Link

In every product and service, there exists some inherent drama — something inherent in the product, something that makes people continue to buy it, something that made the manufacturer make it — it’s what makes the product stand out. And every ad should emphasize it.

“Inherent Drama” became a cornerstone of Burnett’s Chicago School of Advertising. Unlike the ad agencies of New York, Burnett wanted ads to revolve more around the customer’s point of view, especially the down to earth, wide-eyed perspective of Midwesterners.

He emphasized the use of popular archetypes and symbols, often drawn from history and folklore, that easily penetrates prospects’ minds with basic desires, beliefs and instincts. Leo’s box of “Corny Language” was a stimulus point for invoking these popular archetype. For example, the Jolly Green Giant is partly based on the Paul Bunyan story. This ad is perfect — the Green Giant rag doll promo at the end is priceless: “… about a good squeeze wide …”

#madmen #advertising

Continue to Day 54