William Arruda’s Commercial Break


What can personal branders learn from TV advertisements? Take a break and take a peak

There are some absolutely amazing ads developed each year – creative, effective, provocative, interesting, inspiring, memorable. And what makes me love these ads is the talent that’s behind them. How powerful to be able to impact people in just 30 or 60 seconds.

In these special Commercial Breaks, you won’t see advertisements for Reach, but you will see some of my favorite TV commercials of all time. In addition to showing you the ad, I include a brief description of how this ad relates to your personal brand – after all, it’s all about personal branding, isn’t it?

Apple: “Think Different “

I love this commercial because: Personal branding is all about having the courage to stand out and be yourself and this ad communicates that perfectly. It also acknowledges that Apple products are not for everyone. Apple is not trying to be all things to all people. They are willing to appeal to a smaller subset of the population – people willing to pay a premium for something unique and who then become brand ambassadors for the company and its products.

This ad and YOUR personal brand: Do you have the courage and fortitude to be yourself?

Target: “Happy Together”

I love this commercial because: I love every Target ad. They are always on-brand – demonstrating their creativity and touting their value. This ad is also great at expressing emotion. I love the relationship between the two young women.

This ad and YOUR personal brand: Think of the many different ways you can communicate your brand value and think about how you can inject emotion into all your communications.
Sheraton: “Belong”

I love this commercial because: What a great message – not to stay at a hotel – to belong. And Sheraton is doing a great job distinguishing a Sheraton experience from how you might feel at a competing hotel chain. (Disclosure: I do some work for Starwood Hotels, Sheraton’s parent company, and Starwood Hotels – W, Westin and Luxury Collection are my preferred hotels). The ad expresses a lot of emotion and communicates the brand attribute of ‘international.’

This ad and YOUR personal brand: Branding is about creating emotional connections with your target audience by using what makes you exceptional. How are you creating emotional connections with the people who can help you reach your goals? Is one of your brand attributes ‘international’? Find out with this quick quiz: Click here.

Garnier: “Take Care” (in English)

I love this commercial because: The last three seconds – when you hear the Garnier tag line, Take Care. I worked with the President of Garnier in Paris to launch the new tag line internally. It’s among the best tag lines ever. It says a lot in just two four-letter words. We decided to use the three circles (green, orange and pink) which follow the Garnier logo to represent ‘take care of yourself,’ ‘take care of those around you’ and ‘take care of the environment.’ Here’s how to say ‘Take Care’ in multiple languages: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpfNc3T5XVw

This ad and YOUR personal brand: How succinctly can you sum up your unique promise of value into a tag line? Where can you use it? Some of the worlds shortest tag lines include: Volvo: For Life, Coke: Enjoy, and Nike: Just do it. What’s your tagline? How succinctly, yet meaningfully, can you express your personal brand?

MasterCard: Priceless (Kids)

I love this commercial because: MasterCard has done an amazing job connecting their brand to emotion. The entire series of ‘priceless’ commercials is great. The challenge is that we don’t feel that same emotional connection to the cards in our wallet. It’s still hard (for me anyway) to see any difference between MasterCard and Visa.

This ad and YOUR personal brand: You can deliver the best communications and increase your visibility but you need to be differentiated from your peers if you really want people to choose to work with you. What differentiates you?


Schweppes: Burst

I love this commercial because: Schweppes created the term schweppervesence – and this ad is the visual depiction of that term. It communicates that Schweppes is refreshing in a really simple way – to which we can all relate. The use of slow motion is very effective.

This ad and YOUR personal brand: Do you have a term you use, a catch-phrase? Martha Stewart’s verbal trademark is ‘It’s a good thing.’ What’s yours?


Gap: Khaki a Go-Go
I love this commercial because: I just love the dancing and the music and how simple this ad is. I have the entire collection (Khakis Swing, Khakis Soul, etc.). The other thing I like about this ad is that, like all GAP ads, it was created in-house. The GAP is the only major fashion brand I know of that does not use an external ad agency.

This ad and YOUR personal brand: Are you following the standard rules of your industry? Should you rethink elements of your business? The GAP decided to ignore the norm of using an outside ad agency to represent them and it has truly paid off in their simple yet effective advertising. Are you following the pack or thinking differently about your career or business?


Smirnoff: Tea Partay

I love this commercial because: The combination of gangsta-rap with Biff and Buffy from New England is just priceless. This commercial is shot as a music video – but with all the irony they could inject into it. I used to live in Newport Rhode Island and think they captured the preppy vibe perfectly. From the second the Saab rounds the corner and you hear ‘P- Unit Forever’ you can’t take your eyes off this commercial (well, I certainly can’t). Very clever!

This ad and YOUR personal brand: Is irony right for your brand? How can you inject your passions into how you express your personal brand?


Target: Brand New Day

I love this ad because: I love every Target ad. They are always on-brand – demonstrating their creativity and touting their value.

This ad and YOUR personal brand: Consistency is key. You recognize an ad is coming from Target within seconds of watching it. Is it the same for your presentations, articles, newletters, etc.? Strong brands are consistent in what they do and how they do it! Make sure your communications are consistent with your personality and deliver on what makes you exceptional. Use the same symbols and design templates for everything you do (presentations, proposals, marketing collateral, your web site, etc.).


Apple: I’m a Mac

I love this commercial because: It pokes fun at a competitor’s weakness – and most people who know me know that I am an Apple brand ambassador! This ad and the others in the series hit Microsoft so hard (BTW, I am a Microsoft fan as well) that they created their own series of ads rebuking Apple’s claims.

This ad and YOUR personal brand: While I think it’s most important to tout your own strengths and what makes you exceptional, when it makes sense, it’s valuable to demonstrate your differentiation by highlighting a glaring weakness in a competitor. What do you do that your competitor’s can’t?


Trust Condoms: One Love

I love this commercial because: It takes a product that can be a little uncomfortable for some people to talk about and cleverly gets the message across thanks to a rainy and windy day. This ad focuses on a major health issue – but does so in a way that would stimulate conversation, not stifle it. If you listen to the words of boy band Blue’s song “One Love” which plays in the background, you get the message of survival – even though there is not one word spoken by the main characters in the ad. This was a well produced piece. Watch the way the windshield wipers move to the beat of the song.

This ad and YOUR personal brand: Sometimes it’s important to be provocative. You need to be willing to get your message across – ensuring people will listen even if they don’t agree. Strong brands are not all things to all people. They are willing to take a stand and say what they believe.


Honda : Cog (UK)
I love this commercial because: It held my interest for the entire two minutes. It highlights what Honda is about: cars that work. Perfectly. All the time. They may not be sexy or luxurious, but despite the complexity of automobiles with all those moving parts, Hondas are incredibly reliable.

This ad and YOUR personal brand: Think of creative ways you can express your greatest strength – what people expect from – and love about – YOU. What’s YOUR greatest strengths?

Nestle White Chocolate: Sweet Dreams You Can’t Resist

I love this commercial because: It’s among the most creative ads I’ve ever seen. It is on my top ten list! It’s amazing on so many levels. This ad is a series of Maxfield Parish paintings strung together with a catchy tune. The connection between white chocolate and innocence/virginity is subtle but powerful. It is all about sex and virginity wrapped in wholesome goodness – a Nestle wrapper.

This ad and YOUR personal brand: Be creative in how you present your brand. Ask the most creative people you know how they would present you and your unique promise of value to the world.

The Softer Side of Sears

I love this commercial because: Known for its hardware, Sears wanted to change brand perceptions by reminding people of their ‘softer’ line of products (fashion and accessories). The alliteration of the tag line and the clever use of hardware terms to describe fashion show the creativity of the ad team. This commercial attracts your attention and reminds you that Sears is more than hammers and household appliances.

This ad and YOUR personal brand: Remember to be yourself and show all aspects of what makes you, YOU. Personal branding is permission to be yourself – your BEST self. Do you have a tag line?