Launching an advertising campaign that spurs word of mouth activity is no easy feat. Most of the TV Ads seen running day after day are created with that exact goal in mind, but how many of those are actually memorable or worth talking about? Not many…

There are a few basic ingredients that can be used to create an advertising campaign that gets people talking. Not all of them have to be used in the same campaign, of course. Most of the time focusing on one of them will be enough. Here they are:

Controversial Ads

Nothing sparks discussion as much as a little bit of controversy. It’s important, however, to remember that there are two distinct types of controversy: good and bad. The line between isn’t always obvious unfortunately, which is why it’s important to think twice and be extra careful when choosing this strategy.

Also once you stir up controversy, you must be prepared to see it through. Running to hide when the heat gets intense is not an option.

Humorist Ads

Use good humor as an asset This is a staple of TV and radio ads. Probably more than half of those are trying to create interest and spark word of mouth activity by being humorous. The problem is, humor is very difficult to get right when it’s combined with a commercial sales message. Most of the time it simply falls flat. When implemented correctly, however, this type of Ad can have consumers remembering it for the rest of their lives. Maybe it’s not surprising that so many brands try this type of advertisement?

Quirky Ads

Here’s one that can be almost as effective as humorist ads, but also one that is harder to define. A quirky advertisement is one where a viewer (or listener) asks themselves afterwards what it really was they saw (or heard). Get it right and they might even turn the volume up the next time it appears to try to make sense of it! Similarly to controversial ads, there’s a slight risk of going overboard with this, although a quirky ad is usually much “safer” (but arguably not as potent).

Annoying AdsThe memorable annoying one

Everyone has at least one Ad they remember that they always HATED when it came on the TV or radio. However, chances are they still remember the company that ran the promo. I bet you probably talked about it with their friends, creating brand awareness and fulfilling the purpose of the Ad even if you hated it! It’s a bit sneaky, but there’s no doubt that it can be effective. As usual, it’s important not to go overboard and create something that actually repulses people. A slight annoyance is more than enough!

Here is my all time favorite annoying Ad!

 “…I’ve fawlin’ and I can’t get up!…”
This line was spoken in a television commercial for a medical alarm and protection company called LifeCall, in ads that began running in 1987. The motivation behind these medical alarm systems is that many senior citizens today live at home alone, and may find themselves suddenly in medical danger with no one (and no phone) nearby to help them. The product addressed this concern by providing its subscribers with a small pendant, worn around the wrist or neck; when needed, the wearer presses the button on it, and he or she is immediately put into contact with a dispatcher who can send a paramedic, fireman, or other emergency assistance.

The TV advertisement featured, in part, a fictional elderly lady named “Mrs. Fletcher” who has fallen, with her walker, in the bathroom.

On its face, the commercial illustrates a serious situation for a senior with dire consequences (elderly people with no one to care for them may fall in their homes and be on the floor for hours or even days, unable to get help).

The “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” ad had the double misfortune of being unintentionally campy and appearing often on cable and daytime television. The combination made “I’ve fallen… and I can’t get up!” a recognized, universal punchline that applied to many comedic situations. All of these factors made the ad memorable, ensuring the line’s place in pop culture history.

These were just a few examples of Ads that create a lasting impression on consumers, and (hopefully) get them talking about the brand. If increased word of mouth activity is the goal, these types of ads are infinitely more effective than regular “Buy 2 get 3” types of Ads. Since advertising is everywhere in our society, standing out and taking a unique position is becoming increasingly important. Companies that fail to realize this and adapt their advertising campaigns to modern standards that encourage word of mouth marketing risk falling behind.

Please join us in the Dream Achievers Forum to share your most memorable Ads.

In awareness, passion, purpose, joy & effective Ad campaigns,

Callahan Signature


I invite you to share your thoughts below and hit the social media share buttons to pass this article along.


Andrea Callahan is a brand designer. She helps passion & purpose-driven entrepreneurs maximize their strengths to craft and implement an image that represents their WHY and to use that why to position themselves as an Industry Influencer. She a speaker, seminar leader and the author of, "It's Your Brand ~ Make Your Identity Clear" available on Callahan launched the Industry Influencer Academy at

I Would Love to Hear From You...

Leave a Reply