According to Carl von Clausewitz, the best strategy in war is always to be very strong, first generally then at the decisive point. It is also the best strategy in advertising. For us, being generally strong is about branding and the decisive point is about belief change. Simply, effective advertising should brand well and present meaning that changes beliefs.
These IBM ads from the August 11, 2011 Wall Street Journal present an interesting case in point. Ads that are colorful, marshaled in large force and well-positioned (each on the back page of a different section of the newspaper) make them and the brand name more likely to be noticed. But ads that talk meaningfully to a small proportion of the audience, lack visualization of the benefit (including the execution that is about visualization), and are hard-to-read in places (some body copy support) make them less likely to be strong at the decisive point of changing beliefs. What would advertising disciples of Clausewitz and Pinkley say about them?
* Memorably asked by Vernon Pinkley (Donald Sutherland), prisoner 2 in “The Dirty Dozen,” as he inspects Number 1 Company of Col. Everett Dasher Breed (Robert Ryan).