Why Was That Ad So Effective? Relatability

Under Armour’s launching a new campaign: “I Will What I Want.” The first ad features Misty Copeland, a ballerina who overcame much rejection but who ultimately succeeded at becoming a soloist for the American Ballet Theatre.

The ad shows Misty warming up while a young girl reads a rejection letter. “You have the wrong body for ballet,” the letter reads—and oh, by the way, at 13 years old, you’re not young enough for consideration.

The ad has a powerful message. Who among us has not felt that bitter sting of rejection? Of not being “good enough” for someone else’s “standards”?

We relate. We elate in Misty’s triumph. We believe in her and we believe in the message—finding the will to get what you want.

Relatability is strongly present in ads that rely heavily on sentimentality. But the concept holds true in practically every kind of popular/viral ad. (Watch “Proud Whopper”—one of the most shared ads in July 2014—and talk about its relatability in the comments, below.)

Next, consider: back in early July, when we wrote about the 10 Most Inspiring World Cup ads. We featured “House Match,” an Adidas ad featuring soccer (football) greats: David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, Gareth Bale and Lucas Moura.

Not many of us can relate to the talent these gentlemen possess on the pitch. Likewise, not many of us can relate to the kind of life each of these men live on a day-to-day.

But how many of us made a ruckus of our homes growing up as children? The ad uses humor to be effective—and the strongest kind of humor is that of which the audience relates.

Marketers throw the phrases “pain point” and “target audience” around the brainstorming table so often that the words are just noise and are not overly helpful. Yes, you should address the pain points of your target audience. But an effective ad not only does that, it transcends the audience and relates to one human emotion or another.

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