Aug 172007

I saw an ad in the subway recently and I thought it was terrible. See if you can tell why:

“The Right Phones.

The Right Networks.

The Right People.

That’s why we’re the #1 electronics retailer in Canada.”

Or something like that. I don’t remember exactly, but I think I captured the essence of the problem. Can you guess what it is?

If you said that it was the font and the background colours were too similar, then you’re wrong (although there was an ad on the subway about the Ontario Child Benefit that had a lot of text and the text was too close to the background, making it hard to read). This particular ad (and I’ll try to get a picture of it, if I can) had a red background and the font colour was yellow.

Nope, the reason why this ad sucked is because its all about the company (who shall remain nameless…for now, at least). Well, that’s not totally fair. They were doing ok (and just ok) with the “Right” stuff, even though that’s not nearly good enough to win my attention. But they totally bombed it in the last line.

I don’t care if you’ve got the biggest hat in the world, I’m (as a potential customer) only interested in ME and what you can do for ME. Here’s another bunch of ads that I just came up with now. They’re not perfect but they’re better than whatever they have now:

Ad 1: Picture someone in low-key, film noir-ish lighting, looking visibly afraid and trying to get back from electronic thing (like a printer or computer or something). Caption reads: Scared of your computer? We can help!

Ad 2: Buy like four ad spaces at whatever station you’re going to buy it at, and create a comic book-like sequence. Knowingly cheesy, like those ads for workplace safety a while ago. First panel – show someone running out of ink or their printer’s busted while they’re trying to print a mission critical document (or a class report or something). Second panel – show whoever it is deciding to run out to the local <insert electronics store name here>. Third panel – show them getting there and talking to one of the sales reps. Fouth panel – They have received the ink or whatever and they hold it above their heads with the customer service reps in like tights and stuff being all hero-y. Insert a small talk bubble of the customer saying “uh…why are you wearing your underwear on the outside?”. Or have a kid in the background saying, “Mommy! Mommy! Why is that man wearing his underwear outside? Can I?” Or something. The reason this works better is cause a) its a sequence. Make each panel interesting enough that people want to know what happens next and they’ll go and LOOK for each panel and notice it). b) it’s about CUSTOMERS being happy.

Obviously these ideas need refinement, but they’re still better than the original ads.

If I was this particular electronics retailer, I’d fire my ad/marketing team and get someone else in. Someone who can focus on the CUSTOMER.

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