American Spirit Ad – 4 out of 5 stars

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American Spirit Ad - What a good ad looks like

This American Spirit ad appeared in the July 18 – 24 edition of Creative Loafing, a local atlanta free newspaper. Out of all of the ads in the newspaper, this is the only one that qualifies, to me, as a decent ad. All of the others are a complete and total waste of money – except maybe the movie listings and the listings of bands playing at bars.

So why is this a good ad?

Ads that make money – that is, they result in sales and return-on-investment for their advertisers – have 4 things in common: they interrupt, engage, educate, and make an offer.

When you see this ad, if you aren’t a smoker, you would pass right by it. But if you are a smoker, the large type “cigarette” is enough to stop you — to interrupt you and make you start reading. So, the first job of this ad, to interrupt the target market, has been accomplished. Also, notice I said the target market was interrupted. They are not concerned with non-smokers. Making them want to smoke is too much work for an ad. Ads should only grab the attention of the target market — people who are already interested in your product or service and who know the value it offers.

The next job the ad has to perform is to engage the consumer.  It’s not just enough to interrupt them, you have to engage them too. Give them something they care about. With all the talk about cigarettes, cancer, and death, wouldn’t you want to smoke a cigarette that was certified organic? We all know tobacco has chemicals in it. We all know that lighting something on fire and inhaling the smoke can’t be good for you long term. So it brings up some questions: “why would big tobacco companies add more chemicals to their cigarettes?” and “why would I want to smoke a cigarette with added chemicals like saltpeter?” Doesn’t it make sense to smoke a cigarette that is as clean and free of additives as possible? That line of thought is engaging to smokers. Thus, this ad does a very good job of reeling ’em in.

Next, the ad needs to educate. Your customers want to know why they should choose your product over all of the other options available to them. This is your chance to tell them … to educate them on the benefits of your product or service. Notice I said benefits. This ad’s headline has an education element. Then it talks about how sunflower plantings amid the tobacco lead to better soil, fewer pests, and more productive farming. This part makes me have to think and make correlations. This is the weak part of this ad because while I’m thinking, I’m thinking about how it’s possible to mechanically separate sunflowers and their seeds from the tobacco at harvest. I don’t think a combine harvester can do that, so are they saying it’s harvested by hand? Sounds expensive!

See, you don’t want to make people think. They can go anywhere then and you can’t control the conversation. I will say, cigarettes are a hard product to educate people on.  What are the benefits of smoking? If you can sell that, you can sell anything! That’s typically why only our peers can sell us on them.

Finally, an ad should make an offer like this ad does. Most ads don’t. Most ads just assume you know how to purchase it. Big mistake! When you see an ad for a type of liquor, do you remember it when you go to a bar? Do you ask for it by name? Not typically. Not without a lot of branding … and testing at home first. When you see a goodyear blimp, do you remember you need tires and make a call or a trip to the goodyear dealer?

When you need tires what do you do? Do you look in the paper for deals? (offers), remember the blimp and choose Goodyear?, go to the nearest tire center?, or go where you were treated well last time? Of these standard tire purchasing options, only two were advertising. Of those two only one, the newspaper ad with offers, is effective. Branding doesn’t work for small business unless it’s accompanied by an offer. It’s that simple.

So stop saying “we are good” in your advertising! It’s better to say, “If you need a _____, we are the best choice, here’s why, here’s what we will do for you, and here’s a reason to contact us now.”

Interrupt, engage, educate, and offer!

For this American Spirit ad, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars even though it has all of the necessary components of a quality ad because the educate portion is a little slim and there’s a lot of white (wasted) space in this ad. It could have been a 1/4 page ad instead of a half page. They purchased a half page because it stands out more, but when you are paying for space, why not use it all?

What do you think?

Tell me what you think in the comments section below. I’d love to get your opinion on the ad.

Michael Miller

Michael Miller

Mike Miller is the co-owner of, a Digital Marketing Agency in Atlanta, Georgia that focuses on aligning sales and marketing for exponentially greater results. Michael’s mission is helping small business owners understand, and organize their marketing so they can make money and grow. Mindwhirl helps business owners plan and implement effective, profitable marketing campaigns and sales programs. If you need more sales, we know how to get leads and grow businesses. Call us today at (770) 295-8660, or email Mike at

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1 thought on “American Spirit Ad – 4 out of 5 stars”

  1. Enjoyed this article! You broke the marketing essentials down in an easy-to-understand way. It takes some marketing professors more than a semester to convey this! Well done.

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