It doesn’t take a genius to connect the phrases “Just Do It,” “I’m lovin’ it,” and my personal favourite, “You’re richer than you think,” to Nike, McDonalds, and other companies like Scotiabank. We can almost be certain that children learn to recognize the faces of Wendy’s red-haired girl or KFC’s old white-haired wise-looking man before they can even spell their own name. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point.

If there is one thing that hits us from every angle, it’s mass media – specifically, the multibillion dollar realm of advertisements. From small babies to international terrors, companies of all sizes never cease their attempts to incorporate themselves into the lives of innocent, normal commoners who can no longer live their lives without the headache caused by flashing neon lights and massive billboards.

Ads are generally quite successful. Observe the people seen wearing black Adidas shoes, blue Forever 21 jeans, and plaid Hollister shirts with JanSport backpacks slung on their backs as they trek their way to school early in the morning. In this piece, we’re going to look at how some TV ads are so persuasive.

So without further ado: The Four Tricks in Advertisements That Work (With Examples). 

1. Coca-Cola: Sizzles and Fizz 

Any commercial with food and drinks is usually immediately effective (that’s why obesity exists), but Coca-Cola seems to have found a new method to torture its clients into buying its products. The other day, normal, regular, often mind-numbing and sleep-inducing advertisements were on TV. Then deathly, pin-drop silence set in. Torturously, slowly, the sizzling began. I looked up, and there, front and centre, a tall glass of Coke stood, cool droplets of water sliding slowly down the sides as the fizz bubbled and the ice crinkled. Granted, I didn’t have Coke at home so I drank Pepsi, and maybe that’s not the best case, but the advertisement was effective, right? It got me to get up off the sofa. It was definitely the sizzling.

2. Manulife Financial: Hurtful Mystery

The Manulife Financial advertisements have been on TV with several different approaches, and yet none really stuck until the other day. It’s quite ordinary, really – an old man at his work place is about to head to a meeting, where his last words are, “You wanted to see me?” And, get this – the ad ends there without showing what happens next, only saying, “Find out what happens next at Manulife Financial.” Now, it doesn’t sound like anything special, and has no relevance to me whatsoever. I don’t really care about ads that advertise financial management right now (though maybe I should). But who is the man talking to? What is the meeting about? These were the questions that reverberated in my mind every time the ad came on. Now that’s a technique worth employing – mystery and anticipation that plagues the consumer and forces them to visit Manulife Financial to find out what really happens. 

3. Oreo: Kids Who Can’t Understand Each Other 

From the different cartoon ads during the 2014 Olympics, we can all agree that Oreo’s creative minds are, indeed, creative. Even more than the hockey ads, however, the one advertisement that I’ve never forgotten was one released a couple of years ago with a little Chinese boy and white boy sharing Oreo cookies. It wasn’t just the adorable little kids, or the Oreo cookies in their hands, or the milk glasses they had, or their gentlemanly mannerisms, or the fact that they couldn’t understand each other’s languages and yet had a perfectly understandable conversation. Maybe it was all of that. One thing the ad shows, however, was that those kids communicate far better than most people who speak the same language. I’m not really an Oreo person, but hats off to them for ingraining their ad in my cluttered mind by using cute little kids.

4. Excel: Dancing Food 

Dancing donuts, scared pizza slices, swinging coffee cups, and angry popcorn bags – need I say more?

Granted, many readers may not have seen many of these advertisements, perhaps even none. The principle of this list, however, isn’t to rant about the “best ads ever created.” The focus is on the techniques that work. Many of us will have our own advertisements that become trapped in our minds, but one thing is for sure: Boring monologues, long speeches, and even bright colours cannot hold a candle to dancing donuts, little children, suspense, and Coca-Cola.