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  • You need to learn creative testing from THIS brand.

You need to learn creative testing from THIS brand.

How this brand never assumes anything. It led to $170Mn business.

PSA: This newsletter contains so many ads that you’re going to want to save. Ignore at your own risk.

There is a UK-based company that’s getting attention for changing the future of food. It’s called Huel. It rhymes with fuel and is a meal replacement and therapeutic food available in different forms: powder, protein shake, protein bar, grain, or pasta.

They’re running some good ads and while it seems like what they are selling is nice to have, somehow after watching, I feel they are a must-have.

Some facts about Huel: It’s at $170m annual revenue and they’re growing by 40%. Damn, I wish I were the marketer there.

Okay, good to go. Because lots of marketers are sharing their ads on the internet I thought let’s dive deeper and find some proven ads rather than only talk about fancy ads.

This has been running for more than 2 months so this seems like it’s working very well for them.

What immediately stands out:

  • The ads’ headline: Emoji + My feedback after 2 months of Huel. Naturally, I am curious, especially if I am seeing this for the first time; what is Huel?

  • Comparison: Like an easy instant ramen but much tastier – USP call out

  • Visual hook: The hook with Huel dropping, is something I need to try

  • The audio and text aren’t synched: Woah!, don’t fix (@0:21 seconds)

  • That you get extra goodies (the offer) if you are a first-time buyer (I got them too)

  • There’s no talking head, so they can try multiple messages with the same video

  • Harmless CTA: I can’t recommend it enough

What we can learn from this ad:

  • Visual hook: Drop your product and see if it makes a difference. It took me by surprise

  • The ad itself: It didn’t feel like an ad because someone was just giving product feedback

  • Placing insights: There are subtle benefits that the creator calls out; you will only notice them if you’ve done your research like:

    • Insight one: It's made for me and because it's high in protein it helps me feel full for longer while also making it easy to portion control and know how many calories I'm getting.

    • Insight two: It's as easy as instant ramen, but much much tastier and it has all the essential vitamins and minerals as well as 24 grams of plant-based protein in each serving.

  • The offer with audio, video, and CTA at the end with the slides: they send you a free T-shirt, pot, and scoops with your first order and subscribers get an additional 10% off. This turns customers into billboards. And a lot of value upfront without asking.

P.S. This same ad is running in German (another benefit of no talking head)

This has also been running for more than 2 months so this seems like it’s working very well for them.

What can learn from this ad:

  • Frame and anchor your customers with real alternatives to make it easy.

  • The headline is simple, not clever.

  • Benefit – ready in 5 minutes.

Something that’s not shown–that they did a ton of single-image headline tests to come up with these ideas and picked one. So, do that more.

My friend, Phil Agnew made this picture for us to better understand their marketing.

Anchoring psychological ad

This ad has also been running for more than 2.5 months – but only in the USA – yet it is simple enough for people to get it.

So, why is this ad working? By using pop culture; marketers do it quite often in TV commercials. This is a good read to learn what the red and green flags are.

Why is this ad good? It didn’t hint at that derogatory reference, instead, ad highlighted the 4 features their audience really cares about.

If you try and steal the phrasing, it probably won't work. You need to find a phrase that already exists in your country and play with that.

Here’s the bummer, they tried a similar ad format like this (without the genius headline) but that didn’t work:

Leave your comments explaining why it didn't work.

Apparently, Americans like it in the morning as well as midday.

These two ads have been live for more than 31 days now.

What can we learn from them?

Mental model: Trim away the fat.

There's not one wasted word in this ad.

It's a 5-second elevator pitch:

• Problem

• Solution


And most importantly, call out your audience (here, Americans).

What can we learn from this ad or any of Huel’s single-image ads:

  • Use one image and keep testing multiple headlines. Never stop.

  • Keep testing multiple features to point at too.

  • Never assume.

I tried using this tactic, but I didn't find any winning creative that performed well. However, I did learn from the message testing.

Here are my ads:

And I regret NOT testing enough headlines. I also regret using a stock image for this. NEVER USE STOCK IMAGES.

Ad # 5 - Influencer podcast ad (this ad literally convinced me to buy their greens)

This is not a proven ad because it has only been running for a little while, but I am a Steven Bartlett fan so it does need mentioning (and he is 100% authentic).

What immediately stands out:

  • The ad is only running in the USA and not in the UK. Seems like Americans are bigger fans.

  • The environment is like a podcast, so the viewer is more comfortable being led in, but it doesn’t feel like an ad.

  • The hook without feeling like a hook: “This is the best product that _____ have released in recent times.” It could have been anything.

  • Talking about the alternatives: “Many of you will think of alternatives to this, but I've tried those alternatives, and none of them are as tasty as ______ (here: Huel’s daily greens).

  • Rhythm and alliteration (poetic): One scoop, 10 seconds shake and you're ready to go.

What can we learn from this ad:

  • Make a great product so that influencers want to invest in your product (LOL).

  • Get your founder or CMO on multiple podcasts and use the clips.

  • Talk about alternatives; why your product is the best and what is different about it.

  • Make multiple clips and see which one gets you the best results.

Here’s another ad that’s just too cute to ignore (without the analysis):

Key lessons from Huel:

  • Steal how they offer: Buy the product + get extra stuff > become our billboard.

  • Test multiple headlines with the same image and see which one resonates.

  • I thought features callout ads didn’t work. No, I didn’t try enough or it doesn’t work for my vertical.

  • Use framing and anchoring to your benefit to explain how you’re better than alternatives.

  • Drop your product in the hook and then work backward.

  • Don’t make crazy hooks only, create feedback ads. Might just work

  • Keep collecting insights like trophies.

That’s all from this week.

Happy Growing with Paid Social,

Aazar Shad

Since this newsletter is free, I do it to follow my curiosity. But I’d love it if you could leave some feedback so I know if I am helping you or not.

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P.P.S. I recently tried Adscan not just for Facebook but for YouTube and other platforms too. They tell you the ad budget for the EU brands. It is not 100% accurate but it’s based on average CPMs (you get the ballpark number of which ad is winning and proven). Below are my ads:

They also give ad analysis but only limited YouTube ads (and they’re working on FB ads atm):

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