A Thirty Second Lesson on Context and Branding Scores

The problem with conventional wisdom is that by definition, it’s little more than assumption. Never questioned, never truly measured, just blithely accepted as fact.

That makes it dangerous.

During a recent production, a smart client asked for additional coverage of some signage, which is a totally legitimate request. But then she went on to add “Gotta get in that branding early and often.”

Actually, you don’t.  While a lot of people assume saying and showing the product name more often increases branding, that’s not necessarily true when you’re ad tells a story. Context is a critical component to branding. If your story draws me in, and then your brand drives a critical turn in the plot, your branding scores will be tremendous, at least according to accepted research tools like Millward-Brown’s LINK and Ipsos’ ASI.

Consider this twelve year old ad for Miracle Whip, done by two remarkable creatives–CW Jeff Martin and AD Craig Schwartz, produced by the redoubtable Liza Muzik, directed by a very young Craig Gillespie, for one of best clients we ever knew at Kraft Foods, Carl Johnson.  Carl wanted to push the advertising beyond the traditional convention that brand leveraged of showing kids at play who somehow ended up talking about Miracle Whip–yes, it was always a stretch but the kids were simply adorable, so that forgave a lot.  Anyway, Craig and Jeff’s story develops for a full twenty-one seconds–over two thirds of the way through the spot–before introducing the brand.

For years, it held the title as the highest branding-score for a Miracle Whip spot.

If you repeat yourself in conversation, you’re a bore. It’s really no different in advertising.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79


3 thoughts on “A Thirty Second Lesson on Context and Branding Scores

  1. RTB says:

    Hmmmm. There is not a car or VW logo to be found in Volkswagen’s “Force” Super Bowl spot until second number 30 of the 60-second running time. (The appearance of the new Passat itself.) The viewer doesn’t see a big logo until the final seconds. And yet, everyone I know seems to come away knowing not only the brand, but the name of the car as well. As with “Dog,” “early and often” has nothing to do with it. There is no safety in that kind of thinking. Any client who believes otherwise can only be classified as delusional.

  2. Craig Schwartz says:

    dennis left off one other pivotal player – the ECD Probably because he’s too humble since that ECD was Mr. dennis Ryan himself. dennis helped to make sure this spot maintained its intergrity through to the end so it could receive the test scores it got – but much more importantly, not only did he ensure it remained a strong piece of creative communication, he made it better every step of the way.

Leave a Reply