Bad advertisements

Allen.G /

Over the years we have seen some great advertisements on television. Remember the ‘Bugger’ dog of a couple of years ago, where he misses the rear of a utility truck he’s attempting to jump onto? Brilliant! The message, about the power and speed of the vehicle was clear and simple and the humour was perfectly conceived.

There are plenty of ads as good as this, produced by highly qualified designers and agencies. They can, at their best give a little more life to an otherwise dull program, as in the case of the dog ad above – or, at their worst, they can go a long way towards destroying a good evening of entertainment!

The really bad ads fall into two main groups, professional and amateur.

The professional ones are often produced by very young designers who enjoy their own skill, but forget that they are also selling something. They create offbeat visual effects, slick dialogue and unusual formats – all very clever, but a lot of them fail because their message misses the important requirements of a good ad — the ability to be understood!

Another of their most basic errors is to leave as little time as possible for one of the most important parts of their message – the address, telephone, or email address a customer needs either to know where the company is, or to complete a purchase. Not everyone can read as fast as these young geniuses can talk, especially we older viewers!

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A good case in point is a current advertisement for one of our major betting organisations, where a chap sings what appears to be a love song to another bloke – just that, virtually nothing else, apart from the very quick look at the company’s details, as mentioned above. Am I getting too old to understand these things or is the advertisement off the track?

Another advert incorporates a bit of film showing a car of a particular brand, hanging from the ceiling of a room, with a girl standing below and in front of it. The car then lowers to the ground with the usual message, telling us how good and reliable it is. Where’s the connection between a hanging car and the quality of the vehicle – it’s got ME beat!

Another professional ad is almost objectionable, with a boy covered in sweets, saying it is incurable, while a girl next to him picks one off his face and eats it. Would that make you want to buy those sweets, with its suggestion of disease?

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These are just a few examples, among hundreds, to show the point I’m trying to make.

Now we come to the amateurs! These are those ads, made and written by the owner of the business being advertised and usually starring him/her as well. They are often made by the car sales yards, white goods stores and self-invented pieces of specialist equipment.

They almost invariably do it to save money, but I would guess that to be a false economy – when compared to the, (good), professional ads they appear alongside, they look what they are, cheap, unexciting and rather funny, though they usually aren’t intended to be. It’s only when you see some of these advertisements that you really appreciate the skill and hard work that goes into producing the professional ones, something that sells product!

A good actor knows how to stand, how to make the right body-language gestures and voice intonations, even how to smile in what appears to be a natural manner, much more difficult than you might think.

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The amateurs forget, or never learned, a few basics about advertising, (and this really applies to those young professionals too). First, the less said the better, with every word having a meaningful job in the production. Second, the message needs to be essentially about the product, even if it’s partly hidden in other material. Third, give the viewer enough time to read the address, telephone, email information at the end of the ad.

I’ve been annoyed many times when this information is only shown for about one second, so I then have to wait for it to appear again, if the product interests me. Very annoying!

What advertisements do you think are effective, and which ones do you think aren’t? Are there any advertisements you find particularly frustrating?

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