Ad Creative Inspiration: Ideation, Differentiation, & Must-Try Ad Formats for 2024

You could call Jess Bachman a lot of things.  

The inventor of the marketing infographic.

A hip-hop elitist. 

A friend of Martha Stewart. 

A freewheeling, unlicensed electric unicycle rider. 

But there’s one thing Jess Bachman is never accused of doing: following the crowd. 

“I have a repulsion to what’s popular,” Jess told me. “It’s not always the best trait but it does help me create stuff that stands out by bucking the norm.” 

In a world of DTC ads where everyone studies the same Ad Libraries, reads the same 25 Twitter accounts, and ships the same ads that look like everyone else—Jess Bachman knows a better, more lucrative path to DTC advertising success. 

“DTC is a competitive space,” says Jess. 

“So while you want to do the obvious stuff and use tried-and-true ad formats as the foundation of your ad account—if you only follow trends you will never reach the higher levels of performance.” 

Instead, Jess says, you need to get comfortable with having some misses so that you can build the skill of coming up with ideas nobody has ever tried before. 

“Because when you find a winner,” says Jess, “You’ll be six months ahead of competitors before they start to copy you.”

In this special, fire-spitting issue of Thumbstop, Jess will share how he comes up with wildly creative ideas. 

But first—who is Jess Bachman? 

Jess is the Creative Strategy Director and Co-Founder of the agency Fire Team ( At FireTeam, they’ve done incredible things for DTC brands. 

Here’s the highlight reel. 

  • They ran the most successful ad campaign in the history of Reddit. The client, a national CPG brand, had their best sales months in seven years. Reddit’s CMO then flew the FireTeam to New York to get them to reveal how they pulled it off. 
  • One entrepreneur asked them if they thought they could sell his $10 product online. Other agencies said no. Too difficult at that price point. They said hell yes. That was $10M in sales ago.
  • Other wins include helping one client manage $1M per month in Facebook ads, profitably. And helping a CPG brand make their bread go viral for the holidays. Twice. 

Learn more about the most mysterious team in DTC here

Performance marketing ideation secrets 

I sat down with Jess to understand how he brainstorms, and his thoughts on how to build DTC brands. 

Here’s the best stuff I pulled from his brilliant mind. 

1. Ditch your dogma 

Take a look at this ad. 

Would it work? What’s your professional view on fixing it? 

facebook ad example

If you’re like me, your trained marketing mind is shouting things like—”so UGLY, too complicated, a confused mind says no and this fries my brain, people don’t like doing math, it’s too overwhelming.” 

Yet, Jess’ team found the courage to ship it. 

In the first 50 days of being live, it spent $157K. 

“The ad absolutely printed,” says Jess. 

“It performed so well we didn’t want to believe that the complex design was the best version. So we made a V2 that was much less complicated on the offer language. But it only saw $225 in spend. ROAS of 1.06. And completely failed.”

Since then, they reverted to the complex version. 

Here’s how it performed. You click into this Motion report and see the real numbers for this ad. 

Motion report example

The reason why it performed? 

“Because the person who is interested in this ad is very different from your typical marketer,” Jess explained.

“We’ve been trained to keep things simple—but this particular customer likes complexity. They are a coupon hunter. They like the puzzle of finding the best deals. So everything that you might think as a trained marketer—make it simple, make it look prettier—doesn’t apply.” 

This mantra goes beyond any individual ad. 

“Even for things like cost caps versus no cost caps—I don’t trust dogmatic takes on things. I’ve been wrong so many times it is hard to have any dogma about marketing. You need to test things, maybe miss, but hopefully learn something new.” 

While we all want to be experts and have strong takes on marketing, it is just not how our discipline works. 

As Jess once said on Twitter, “If you aren't constantly challenging your assumptions, you aren't growing. And if you aren't growing, you'll soon be passed by those that are.” 

2. Balance ad engagement & persuasion 

According to Jess, the perfect direct-response ad has two qualities. 

One, the ad needs to be engaging, hooking people and getting attention.  

Two, it needs to effectively sell the product. 

The tough part is finding the right balance between those traits. 

“We’ve made ads with very long watch times but the click-through and conversion rates were not good. So we were too engaging but not selling,” says Jess. 

“And then you can go too far and your ad is just one long boring infomercial, all selling with little engaging, and so people end up not watching the ad.” 

Here’s a good example the FireTeam did for, a DTC funeral service. 

The average marketer is going to get the brief—”sell a funeral service and talk about death”—and play it super safe. 

How do you talk about death in an engaging way? 

Well, if you lead with hooks like—3 reasons why you need to be cremated or protect your loved ones when the unthinkable happens—you won’t even get a chance to pitch your product. 

“We knew we needed to engage the audience. As the typical buyers are often grandparents, it made sense to use the POV of their grandchildren as an entry point for attention, with children asking questions,” explains Jess. 

Watch the ads below to see how the Fire Team both engaged and then transitioned into selling, without jarring the audience.

Facebook ad example

You can also click this Motion report and see the data for these ads, plus other creative variations. To view ads, just click on their thumbnails in the chart. 

Motion report example

3. Increase your reps & creative inputs 

Finally, creativity is a power everyone can access.

“I believe that ideation and creativity is a learned skill,” says Jess.

“It’s no different than something like archery. You will get better with practice—and if you stop doing it, you will start losing the skill. But the more you do it, the better you will get.”  

I asked Jess about his exact process for creating new ad ideas. Here’s how he approaches the ideation process.  

🔌 Get inputs 

“First, you do need a flow of inputs into your brain. That could be scrolling through ad libraries of other brands. Watching TV. Scrolling your feed. Reading books. You do need some level of inputs. If you just go out into the woods, you will likely only have ideas about forests and trees.”  

👯 Bounce ideas around 

“Second, ideas need to bounce off each other. It’s much easier to add to an existing idea than to come up with an entirely new idea. So brainstorming with other creatives on your team is essential.” 

At the FireTeam agency, they have a bi-weekly two-hour brainstorming session for their clients. 

“We leave that meeting with around 40 new ideas for our clients. But this is collaborative and very much bouncing ideas around, not going at it solo.” 

⚙️ Create processes to make creativity efficient 

Jess says that people underestimate the power of process in creativity. 

One thing they’ve done at their agency is to create a Slack channel called “Ad-spiration.” Team members drop in ads they like, random thoughts, or something from a movie or book that gave them a creative idea. 

Then they have a VA that catalogues all the ideas, puts them into Notion, and then during the two-hour brainstorm meeting, they have a giant list of ideas to go through. 

“It’s a giant list of ammunition to kickstart the ideas and helps us structure creativity to be more efficient.” 

While writing this week’s newsletter, I took Jess’ advice and created a similar Slack channel for my team. We’re five new ideas and counting in the first 24 hours. 

Coming up with the best ideas for Facebook ads

Implementing ideas you find on DTC Twitter will get you going. 

But to reach higher levels of creative performance, you gotta veer off the trail. 

You can start by increasing your inputs. Look beyond marketing sources and get divergent in your inspiration sources. 

Next, start rejecting dogma. This opens your mind to new ideas. And helps you appreciate the many different types of consumers out there—like complexity-loving deal hunters or getting inside the minds of grandmas. 

And finally—build the right team. 

You need trusted ‘ride or die’ people to bounce ideas around. You need people you like and positive energy in your brainstorms to turn tiny sparks into creative fire. 

Must-try ad formats for 2024

If you want to reach the highest levels of creative performance you need to veer off the proven path. 

Let’s get more tactical. 

“One of the things I have to fight against in myself is getting too clever with ad concepts,” Jess told me. 

“It’s fun to create a new hook idea that nobody has ever seen before. But the foundation of ad accounts should be in the tried-and-true concepts that work.” 

While Jess is allergic to sharing best practices, the following tactics are the closest thing you’ll get to ad formats that will likely make you a lot of money with a small amount of creativity. 

The goal is always to start making those big creative swings. But if you miss the obvious stuff, you are getting in your own way. 

So let’s go through a checklist of ‘obvious ads’ that you can test before reinventing the creative flywheel. 

Facebook ad creative checklist for 2024

Nothing in life is certain—but these ideas generally work in DTC advertising. 

Obvious ad #1: Do a rant 

Jess is hesitant to recommend one tactic that will work in any context. 

“Every brand is so individualized. And I’ve often had the experience of someone on Twitter saying ‘Hey this is working, you should try it.’ And then trying it and it doesn’t work.” 

However, there is one angle that Jess says is working right now: doing a ‘rant’ ad.

“This starts with a banner that says ‘X Rant’ with X being the topic you are discussing. This could be a salad rant for a healthy food brand or an eyeliner rant for a makeup brand.” 

The X part does the creative targeting and the ‘rant’ preps people for a hot take. You can use the hot take to follow a typical problem > solution sales structure. 

“I’ve used the ‘rant’ format to sell almost everything,” says Jess. 

“In fact, we even used this for a DTC cremation service and it worked,” he said. 

In the ad (which you can watch below and see real Motion performance data for it), the woman starts talking about how expensive funerals are and the cost to your family and so on. It’s an effective entry point into the product. 

Facebook ad example

Click this Motion report and see the data for these ads, plus other creative variations. To view the ads, just click on their thumbnails in the chart. 

Motion report example

If Jess can sell funerals with a rant, what could you move off the shelf with the rant format? 

“You can apply [blank] rant to many different products and see success as it allows you to tap into common frustrations around things like competitors, price, and so on. So starting the ad with that banner—rant [your category] at least gives the viewer a few extra seconds to say ‘okay, tell what you got to say.’”

Obvious ad #2: Make it Mega 

One easy tactic you can use is what Jess calls “Mega Ads.” The concept is simple: ​​you create a whole landing page worth of copy below the see-more section of the ad. 

“You lead with something hooky and creative up top—and then when people click to see more, you answer any possible question they could ever have about the product.” 

This tactic can work well for products that require more education. It’s also just a copy change, so very simple and cheap to test. 

“The logic is when people want to see more, we give it to them! The copy is always important. Don't let people tell you otherwise!” 

You can click below and see examples and view real performance data with Motion. 

Motion report example

Obvious ad #3: Make a Post-it ad 

“Post-it ads are popular in DTC because they work,” says Jess. “They are a good ad to start with as they force you to simplify your product into a few simple benefits.” 

I think everyone knows this tactic well—so go and create a few. While writing this newsletter, we were doing some ads for Motion. I grabbed my iPhone and had a Post-it ad over to our design team in 15 minutes. 

Obvious ad #4: Make a product explainer ad

“You should definitely make a product explainer ad. Just explain the product and why people need it being as simple as you can be.” 

Short on time? Point an iPhone at the founder. Ask them about the pain the product solves, the competitor alternatives, and why people should buy it. Edit the footage down and you've got a killer ad.  

If it performs well, get an actor to recreate the key messages in a more polished video or book the founder for a studio shoot. 

Obvious ad #5: Make a ‘Hey Lawyer’ ad 

If your goal is to reach a specific group of people—such as lawyers in Washington DC—you should do the most obvious thing ever: call them out in the ad. Then, you can start doing more creative alternatives. 

“Just call out your target audience in the first line or banner and speak directly to their pains. This ad works because the target audience is at least going to give you a few seconds of their time to figure out where you are going with the ad.” 

For example, “Hey heads of growth! Are you struggling to scale spend because you have a massive disconnect between your media buyers and creative teams? Here’s why Motion helps you ship more winning ads.” 

Here’s one we are testing out for getting more subscribers to Thumbstop. It's not very creative—but makes sense to start with a simple concept before getting wild. 

Facebook ad example

Obvious ad #6: Make a re-release offer  

Nearly every DTC brand offers discounts for BFCM. 

In addition to your discount promotions, here’s a twist to try.  

Jess's team works for a client called JavaSok, an insulated sleeve for your iced coffee cup that comes in many styles and patterns. The FireTeam had done a limited release for a Harry Potter Horcrux-themed style sleeve. It sold out quickly and the FireTeam knew they had a winner. 

When Cyber Monday rolled around, they did a re-release. Only instead of a discount, they played on the scarcity of this limited edition. 

“Our Cyber Monday offers were high AOV and margin-friendly. If people wanted the Horcrux AND the deal, they had to play on our terms and buy five. And they did. We beat the last Cyber Monday by 20% and had the best day of the year.” 

Motion report example

The lesson? Discounts aren't your only promotional lever. 

This is most applicable to physical products. But you can get creative and even apply it to B2B software or services. 

For example, if we dropped a “Jess Bachman Ad Pack” that was limited to 50 people who booked a demo of Motion in February and then destroyed the swipe file forever so only the chosen few could use those ad ideas—I feel like might work, get us demos, and be better than discounting our software.  

One important note from Jess. “Cyber Monday is not the time to be testing new things—this product had already sold out earlier in the year, so we had a strong signal that this was a winner.” 

So in 2024, start looking for those winning product releases you could use again for Cyber Monday. 

Facebook ad creative inspiration for 2024

Jess says that the secret to effective marketing comes down to three things. 

  • 40% of effectiveness comes from differentiation—how is this product different?
  • 40% comes from the emotional connection and creativity you have in expressing the differentiation. 
  • 20% is the tactical stuff like setting up Klaviyo flows and the basics. 

The point of doing the obvious ads first is that you are making sure that you are expressing and testing the differentiation—explaining the product, simplifying your pitch down to the core benefits, reaching your most profitable, loyal customers, and using the tried-and-true formats first. 

If you create an explainer video or Post-it ad with the core benefits of your product and nobody buys—that’s trouble. 

And just getting more creative in your ads can’t fix underlying problems like a lack of demand, bad pricing, weak positioning, or total product saturation. 

So you need to build that baseline of sales with safer bets. 

Once you have the basics working, you can start spitting creative fire like Jess Bachman. 🔥

Get a tour of Motion’s creative analytics platform. We’ll even build free sample reports for you using live data from your TikTok, Meta, and YouTube ad accounts.

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It originally appeared in Thumbstop—a free weekly newsletter filled with tips to help you ship winning Meta, TikTok, and YouTube ads.

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James Mulvey
Head of Content

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