Creativity is the hallmark of great video advertising with the best ads often becoming the gold standard by which future ads will be judged. Yet, the creative aspects of leading advertisements also tend to become heavily adopted or downright copied by others. For instance, television advertisers often produce copycat ads where the ad layout and execution are clearly influenced from ads presented by another company. Alternatively, these contain certain effects, such as music, which are included in other ads. (For other examples see this 2007 New York Times story.)

While in many business situations imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (e.g., designing a sales force training program that uses the same key elements used by a leading firm), in reality, once a creative video advertising approach is copied by others it is only a matter of time before targeted customers become bored with it.

One creativity advertising approach that may be on the way to achieving highly-imitated status is the "What was that I heard?" advertisement. The idea with this ad is to create a message that motivates targeted customers to experience the ad again just to make sure they understand what they heard. A good example are ads where the phrasing of words makes it sound like it may be something else. Probably one of the best recent examples is the Kmart "ship-my-pants" ad from 2013.

Now, as described in this Adweek story, there is another example, this time from Verizon, where the words "half fast" are uttered in a way that likely will cause viewers to pay attention. If Verizon finds success with this, then more advertisers will be inclined to give this advertising approach a try as there are certainly an unlimited number of word combinations and phrasings that can give the same effect (the story even suggests one!). Yet, despite the effectiveness of this creative form, it can be argued we are reaching the half-life of the type of advertising.


Cite: Christ, Paul (2014). Another “What Was That I Heard” Ad is Funny but Does This Creative Approach Still Have Legs?. From Trends and Developments. Retrieved January 20, 2018 from