Comparing the effectiveness of executional elements in TV advertising: 15- versus 30-second commercials

John L. Stanton and Jeffrey Burke

How advertising messages are presented is often referred to as creative execution. While there has not been any unanimous agreement on the classification of the execution alternatives, even more debate has occurred between the importance of execution versus the message. The argument of creative execution license versus concept discipline has persisted as long as advertising agencies have existed. Two of the early 'gurus' argued on this exact point. David Ogilvy's Rule #2 for copywriters, 'what you say is more important than how you say it,' argues the importance of the message. William Bernbach's response, 'execution can become content, it can be as important as what you say ... A sick guy can utter some words and nothing happens; a healthy vital guy says them and they rock the world,' suggests the creative execution is in itself important. What is often lost in this discussion is how effective are the various execution alternatives.