Tuesday, October 17, 2006

When Bad Ads Attack

Just finished a marathon post (well, four of them, cause they're each 300 words long) on our sister site, Selling to Small Business.

I was reading through the National Post's special supplement on Small Business today, and found myself getting annoyed at the stupidity of the ads. I hadn't done any ad critiques on S2SB for a while, so I decided to annotate every ad in the supplement - about 10 in all - the good, the bad, and the ugly (and there were far more of the latter than the former).

Check it out at http://sellingsb.blogspot.com/
(Start reading about four posts down, and work your way up. They're in reverse order.)

And in case you're allergic to linking, here's a sample of my scathing outrage.

I’m a big fan of Mastercard’s long-running “priceless” campaign. (“There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's MasterCard.”) But the 1/3 page color ad on page 9 disrupts the usual rhythm and leaves me clueless.

It shows a young couple hanging a “Grand Opening” sign over a storefront. The headline reads: “New store: $0. Moving the business out of the basement: priceless.”

What does this mean? Nothing - until you look down to the bottom of the ad and read about MasterCard’s new contest offering you a chance to win a $50,000 “business building fund” every time you use your MC BusinessCard card. (Yes, it really said “BusinessCard card.” Wordsmithing is not dead, it’s merely starving in a forgotten storage room on Madison Avenue.)

That’s a pretty compelling benefit. Too bad they played coy. I bet very few people go from the puzzling headline to the explanatory copy; they’ll just shrug and move on.

Why not come out and say “Win $50,000 just for using your MasterCard.” Expecting people to read on when your copy confuses them is like expecting the rain to stop just because you've stepped out without an umbrella. Sorry: the world doesn't wait for you to explain yourself.

Read the rest here.

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