How to align your innovation and advertising around meaningful difference

Discover the five steps to successful launch advertising that will make your difference meaningful.
29 September 2023
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Dr Nicki

Head of Behavioural Science and Innovation Expertise, Kantar Insights, UK


Senior Client Lead, UK Creative Team

In Chinese mythology, the red thread of fate refers to an invisible cord that connects people who are destined to be together. Unfortunately, there is no such destiny involved in new product development. A great new product does not guarantee a successful launch advertising. Instead, the innovator must create their own red thread by ensuring that the advertising for their innovation properly reflects its meaningful difference. 

Reflect meaningful difference in advertising to drive growth 


Connecting a meaningfully different brand with effective advertising drives growth.  

Analysis of Kantar BrandZ finds that over a six-year time frame meaningfully different brands with appealing advertising grew over eight times faster than brands which lacked both. The connection between meaningful difference and advertising is even more important when it comes to launching a new brand or product. Too many innovations fail, and one of the biggest causes of failure is that potential buyers simply did not know the innovation existed or failed to understand its relevance to their needs. 

To avoid having your innovation sidelined because of an ineffective launch, take note of these five lessons that we have distilled from decades of experience with innovation and advertising. 

1.Build from your difference forward 

Almost half the ads tested in Kantar’s Link pre-test are for new products of one sort or another. That’s over 125,000 different executions. Analysis of our database reveals some important and consistent findings. Perhaps the most important one is that perceived difference is a driver of both persuasion and memorability.  

The most persuasive new product ads are the ones that people believe are newsworthy, relevant, credible, and different. 


In other words, the most persuasive advertising is perceived to communicate something meaningfully different. To drive short-term sales, new product advertising is more reliant on being persuasive than advertising for established brands, which is why it is so important to highlight what is different about your innovation in its launch advertising.  

However, people also need to remember your new product when a need it might satisfy occurs, and that means your advertising needs to leave a memorable impression. Advertising that is perceived to be different will always be more persuasive and memorable than that which is undifferentiated, but particularly when it comes to line extensions it is important that the difference is seen to fit the brand. Analysis of the Link database finds that when it comes to advertising for line extensions, the memorability is strongest when the ad is perceived to be both different and fits the brand.  

Awareness Index average percentile of line extension ads tested 


   Low Fit High Fit 
 High Difference 54  74 
 Low Difference 22  51 



Successful innovators know that effective advertising originates from a product’s meaningful difference, and they make sure that it is not lost from sight during the development process. 

2.Identify what will make your difference meaningful 

Difference for difference’s sake is unlikely to do anything for an innovation or its advertising. A difference must have the potential to be meaningful, and that requires more than just relevance. The innovation must offer something people find helpful, appealing, desirable. It must make people’s lives better in some way, even if that difference is just a feeling. 

The TV ad for L’Oréal Men Expert’s ‘One-Twist Hair Colour’ delivers a clear sense of the product’s functional benefits with a brand focused demo cleverly entwined into the dynamic, action styled, ‘mission’ of the ad, making it a pivotal part of the story.  The ad was a TV winner in Kantar’s 2022 Creative Effectiveness Awards, notable for entertaining and connecting on a humorously emotional level, with a likeable celebrity confidently addressing the image of male stereotypes. 

Watch here


3.Align your campaign activation around your meaningful difference 

Over the years, we have noticed an alarming disconnect between what makes a new product succeed in concept testing and the content that is developed to launch that product. Putting it bluntly, this is often the result of a sloppy brief. If the agency does not know what the difference is that the product is intended to make in people’s lives, then they are set up to fail. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for an agency team to be unaware of quality allowed the innovation to progress to launch.  

However, there is an interesting counterpoint. Too many agency teams see the role of advertising as creating an emotional connection with consumers. For a new product, this is putting the cart before the horse. People appreciate products that make a meaningful difference in their lives. 

Our data shows that ads demonstrating the product being used or consumed have a +10-point increase in brand affinity when asked how they feel about the brand. And ads that demonstrate the benefits of the product see a +14-point increase in making the consumer feel the brand will meet their needs. 


Demonstrating the product's benefits can be a useful way of helping the consumer understand how it will meet their needs, whilst showing it being consumed or used can help to build affinity with the brand


To be effective, launch advertising must showcase what makes an innovation relevant, how it fits into people’s lives, and why it is better than the alternatives. This does not preclude the need for emotion, but that emotion must be harnessed to gain attention and focus it on how the innovation will make people feel.   The work that we have done partnering with our clients to actively bridge the gap between innovation and creative development is a testament to the importance of this connection.  

For example, for one of our clients, who has committed to this as a way of working, where concept and creative development are connected, they have seen a 33% lift in creative key performance indicators.  

4. Make your new product the hero of its creative 

By now, every marketer should know that the most important thing in advertising is getting the creative right. When it comes to driving profit, creative quality is the most important variable under an advertiser’s control. Unless the content gets noticed and leaves an impression, little else will happen. The key to creative success for new products is to make sure the proposition is clearly conveyed – simple and clear messages will help announce the product offering, and if that is done in a way that hooks in the viewer then you’re on to a winner! 

McVitie’s Blissfuls was another of Kantar Worldpanel’s Top 10 new products of 2022. Its launch advertising focused single-mindedly on its intended purpose, delivering a blissful experience. The portrayal of the gentle and relaxed creation of Blissfuls leads to a scene of a couple sharing a bag of them sitting at home on the couch. When tested, people found this execution to be highly engaging, strongly persuasive ad and very different, driving interest and curiosity.  

So, when it comes to a new product launch, don’t hide your product, find creative ways to showcase how it can make a positive difference in people’s lives. To ensure that your content will get the message across, test it. With AI-powered technology, like Link AI, you can test your own or your competitor digital ads in as few as 15 mins providing reassurance, without sacrificing time. 

5. Support, support, support! 

If people are unaware your innovation exists, they are unlikely to notice it online or instore, and certainly will not search for it. Analysis of Kantar’s Crossmedia studies finds that while creative quality is the number one driver of brand salience, contributing 49% for the average campaign, reach is the second most important at 32%. The more people you can reach, the more people will remember your brand when a relevant need arises. 

Unfortunately, no matter how well the media is bought, reach costs money. Innovators must lobby hard to get the budget their innovation deserves and ensure that its support continues beyond the first year. However, advertising support is not just important to reach new buyers, it also keeps your product salient to existing ones. Analysis of Kantar Worldpanel data finds that a key difference between new products that decline in Year 2 compared to those that maintain or grow sales is that on average the declining brands cut their advertising support by half. 

In conclusion, remember, the world will not beat a path to your door if they do not know you have a better mousetrap. Great innovations deserve great advertising, and to that end, innovators must create their own red thread and make sure that their innovation’s meaningful difference is inextricably linked to the content used to launch it.  

Kantar's innovation learning journey can guide you in creating meaningfully different innovations that sustain brand growth, leveraging evidence-based innovation knowledge and its extensive database, powered by AI-driven proprietary technology. 

 Get in touch today. 

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