By Matt Smith

It’s extremely difficult to craft meaningful, impactful and engaging advertising when you don’t have an identifiable product or service to promote. I know that sounds odd—all advertising is for some kind of product or service, right? Not exactly. What if your assignment is to create advertising for something that’s only a part of something else, something bigger, something that everyone understands even though they’ve probably never heard of the small role your client plays in the bigger picture?

I guess what I’m really talking about is what’s been labeled “ingredient branding,” a method of advertising best personified by Intel Inside in the 1990s in which one part of a product is pulled out and marketed as a separate entity. It’s basically using an “ingredient” to promote a brand.

That’s what Edelman did for its client AFPM, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers. And they met the challenge so brilliantly that their efforts were awarded a silver ADDY last month.

Edelman’s campaign shows what the AFPM does for its own customers, and by extension for the general public. Here’s an example of the copy in a print as that perfectly illustrates the approach: “WE MAKE THE DIESEL, THAT POWERS THE TRUCKS, THAT MAKE YOUR PACKAGE ARRIVE JUST IN TIME.” The only graphic on the page is a photo of a disembodied pair of hands holding a package labeled “Next Day.” Check it out, along with a few other examples, here:

Other executions promote AFPM products such as ethylene (used in food packaging), propylene (used in the manufacture of heart valves) and xylene (carpeting). All extremely un-sexy and unfamiliar products tied to other easily identified products that consumers recognize immediately. All wonderfully effective.

The campaign is clear proof that in our world there ALWAYS is a way to say what you need to say in a clean, emotional, engaging and impactful way. And the team at Edelman did just that, even when there was very little “there” there. In doing so, they joined the small, elite club that claims members such as Intel, BDO and BASF.

The road to creating successful ads for these types of “secondary” products and services is very narrow, but the team at Edelman found a way to thread the needle that makes the seam that holds together a great campaign.

Matt Smith is founder of SmithGifford, and has close to 40 years’ experience as a creative and agency leader at the nation’s top agencies.  SmithGifford is a Capitol Communicator sponsor.

You can find Matt Smith’s earlier columns at Oh, That’s Good.

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