Executional Styles in Advertising

Executional Styles in Advertising

When it comes to advertising, there are many executional styles to choose from. Here are three ads that highlight a few of those styles and demonstrate how emotional and rational appeals can be made through these styles of advertisement.

Tide Cold Call – Spokesperson/Testimonial


This Tide Cold Call commercial is one of the latest in a series of ads from Tide featuring celebrities endorsing, or switching to, Tide Coldwater Clean. The commercial features Ice T, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and NFL player Matty Ice, calling celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay, and asking if he will switch to Cold. Matty Ice opens by saying NFL teams are using the product, and by doing so, showing endorsement by the NFL. Ice T shares his support of the product by citing how it will save money. The ad ends with Gordon Ramsay saying he will “turn to cold” too.

This commercial definitely takes a humorous approach to a celebrity endorsement, but the main focus of the content is that the four celebrities and one organization (NFL) are endorsing the product. Three of the celebrities endorse it so much that they are “cold calling” their celebrity friends to get them to make the switch.

The dialog of the commercial is somewhat rational, as they point out facts about how Tide Coldwater saves money and is tough enough to clean NFL uniforms, but it is primarily an emotional appeal. The ad features recognizable names and faces to support the product and encourage others to use it. The hope is that if viewers like the celebrities, they may be swayed to use the product too.

The graphics and visuals support the spokesperson executional style, as the entire commercial prominently features the four celebrities. Additionally, the backdrop behind the callers, Matty Ice, Ice T and Steve Austin, features the Tide and NFL logos, implying endorsement or at least a relationship between the two.

Allstate Cat Mayhem – Humorous


By now, pretty much everyone is familiar with the character named Mayhem, played by Dean Winters. The villain, Mayhem, was first introduced in 2010 (Elliot, 2010). The character was intended to add hilarity to an industry that primarily stuck to a serious tone in advertisements and utilized celebrity spokesmen to promote the brand. While Dean Winters is a celebrity, his role is not to endorse the company. His role is to create hilariously destructive scenarios that could be easily solved if you have Allstate insurance.

In this particular ad, Dean Winters portrays a cat by wearing a collar, swatting at cat toys, riding a Roomba around the living room and hissing at his owner, and causing a bathroom sink to overflow. His cat-like hijinks end up causing the ceiling to collapse, dumping water all over the first floor of the home. While the scenario is a bit ridiculous, Mayhem pauses long enough to spit out feathers from the canary he just ate and remind the viewer that Allstate can take care of problems like these. Mayhem also points out that if you do not have Allstate, “you could be stuck paying for these damages.”

Oddly enough, the appeal is slightly more on the rational side. While the plot of the commercial itself is ridiculous, the point is a rational appeal that you need to have insurance that will cover even the most bizarre circumstances. If your insurance does not pay for the damages, you will be stuck with the bill.

The visuals in the ad go a long way towards supporting the humorous executional style. Seeing a grown man wear a collar, ride a robot vacuum cleaner, hiss at a woman, spit out bird feathers and just generally behave like a cat is ridiculous, and that’s the point. Many of these activities, like knocking a cup off a counter for absolutely no reason, are iconic cat behaviors. Even if the commercial did not open with Dean Winters declaring “I’m your cat,” it would be abundantly clear that he is a cat and the following commercial content is going to be completely absurd.

Ford F150 Head to Head – Comparison with Demonstration


Toyota may be working hard to chip away at Ford’s market share with pickup trucks, but Ford is not going to let them have it without a fight (Panait, 2021). In this commercial, Ford uses the comparison executional style to pit the 2021 Ford F150 head to head with the 2021 Toyota Tundra. Throughout the advertisement, a voiceover cites features like available max payload, towing capacity, rearview technology, horsepower, torque and more and how F150 beats out Tundra for all of them. The voiceover even says towards the end “Let’s see Tundra do that,” implying that it cannot. Finally, the commercial ends by talking about how the F150 is “just as smart as it is tough,” vaguely addressing the fact that Toyota has been leading the field in technology upgrades and implying that the F150 can keep up, or even out pace the Tundra in this area as well.

Because of the content, the commercial clearly leans heavily into the rational appeal to consumers. There are numerous facts and comparisons made between the two vehicles making it clear that, based on the information given, F150 is the superior vehicle when compared to Tundra.

What makes this advertisement interesting to me is that while the visuals support the comparisons by showing the F150 in action, there is no visual comparison with the Tundra. Instead, all the footage of the commercial uses the demonstration executional style. The images show the F150 towing large loads and backing into relatively small spaces at odd angles. The commercial also features the technology used in the vehicle while backing up, the outlets in the truck bed being used for operating power tools and cooking, hauling loads of lumber and maneuvering sharp turns on dirt roads.

While the footage lines up with what the voiceover is talking about, the visuals are focused exclusively on demonstrating the features. This is an effective approach because it makes for solid footage of the vehicle in action and is more interesting than a one minute long side by side comparison of two trucks in a showroom.

Executional Styles Do Not Exist in a Vacuum

While these three commercials utilize different executional styles, they are all effective at communicating information about their brand or product. And, while the primary style used is unique, there are some similarities. For example, all three commercials utilize humor to some degree. Tide plays on Gordon Ramsay’s famous hot-head temperament, Allstate has a grown man behave like a cat, and Ford makes snarky comments about the Tundra, yet only one of these ads utilizes the humorous executional style. So, in addition to being aware of the various styles in advertising, it is important to realize these styles do not exist in a vacuum and ads do not have to rely on only one methodology for connecting and communicating with consumers.

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