Is a pretty ad a good ad?

 In Uncategorized

I’m a big fan of the Freakonomics podcast. Their well-reasoned analysis of incentives and human behavior in the context of economics is fascinating.

A recently aired a podcast entitled, “How to Make a Smart TV Ad???, caught my attention.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 10.48.55 AM

The podcast focused on a series of ads by Prudential featuring Harvard psychology professor, Dan Gilbert, on how we all need to better plan for our financial future. The ads were well written, nicely produced, used data visualization based on academic research, had a legitimate and believable spokesman, and they even won some awards. I liked them. Here’s one in the campaign:

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 10.41.57 AM

But when Steven Dubner, the host of the podcast, asked the CMO of Prudential if the ads had an affect on their business (21:00 into the podcast or read the transcript), all the CMO was able to say was that they rated well. He did not provide any quantifiable analytics as to the effectiveness of the ad or of the entire campaign.

Most surprisingly, the Creative Director of the Ad Agency that created the campaign, Droga5, (at 22:39 in the podcast), admitted he bought a policy from a different insurance company.

So ask yourself, is a pretty ad a good ad? It is if you want to win awards.

Our philosophy is different, though, we create ads to sell products, build awareness, and motivate viewers to take action. Just sayin’.


– George Demet, Principal of Buster Creative, holds advanced degrees from both the University of Chicago and Northwestern University in finance and engineering.

Recent Posts