This ad is brilliant. Learn from it.

We have a Sunday evening tradition in my house.

Around 6:30 or so, the four of us eat dinner. We talk about all the fun we had over the weekend. And, we share what we are looking forward to in the new week ahead.

Then, after everyone has had their fill, we retire to the couch, where we have dessert and watch retro TV shows on the DVR.

We love to fast-forward the commercials, but every once in a while, we don’t. This past Sunday was one of those once-in-a-whiles.

We saw a GREAT ad. How great?

  • We watched it four times. (four times!)
  • We wiped tears from our eyes.
  • And, we discussed why it was so great.

It got me thinking…

Why do some advertisements get our attention with little effort while others scream for it, but are easily ignored?

There’s got to be a blueprint, right? Steps to take to make your content more memorable?

I think there just might be…But, first, let’s take a look at this brilliant ad:

This ad was created by a bigtime agency, Carmichael Lynch. But you don’t have to be Don Draper to churn out great content.

Here’s a blueprint to follow — taken from how this ad is so effective — to make your content stand out:

  • Know your audience.

Construct your messaging around the loves and concerns of your audience, not around your product features and benefits. The most important thing should be your potential buyers, not your company or product.

  • Make an immediate connection.

Note the first word spoken in this ad — YOU.

Grab that immediate connection by starting with YOU. It’s not about me….it’s about YOU. This whole thing is about YOU.

[Note: this does not mean you literally must say, “you.” But, definitely don’t start with “we.”]

  • Embrace emotion.

If you truly understand your audience — what moves them…what worries them….makes them laugh…makes them cry — you know their cares.

Genuinely recognize the cares of your audience, and you’ll connect with them on a different level.

  • Use an element of surprise.

The music lulls you in. The prose is comforting. And then…BAM. In a world where danger can come out of nowhere, it’s so important to have the right car to protect those you love.

Surprise is key because you remember it. Use it to reinforce your core message. In the case of this ad, that’s safety.

  • Let imagination create the connection.

At the moment of impact, we see a split second, and then the screen goes white. Your imagination takes over. You finish the scene in your head. What happened? How is everyone?

“Honey are you OK?”

“I’m OK.”

By letting your imagination connect the dots, the ad has created a connection to the mom and child in the car. Human nature thinks the worst instinctively. It’s why when the tagline comes — “Love.” [We’re OK.] “It’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru.” — it is so effective.

Look, creating great content is not easy. But, if you make the effort and take these actions, I promise you’ll see a difference in yours.

© 2017, Zach Messler

An earlier version of this article appeared on LinkedIn.

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Zach Messler is a marketing guy and communicator with “…an uncanny instinct for the right thing to say and how to say it.”

Reach him at @zmessler or

He does not always type in the third person.