Thursday, July 07, 2011

Banner advertising -

I know it's not as sexy to talk about advertising concepts as it is to talk about the technology that advances advertising concepts, but I was a copywriter once upon a time and that shit stays in your blood.

So what's wrong with this ad? The second I saw it, I targeted it as junior. It's not the art direction, as that's actually a pretty strong visual and I like the classic layout. Very old school. And it's not the placement. This ad appeared on weather.com. Not that I fall for the Valentine flowers bit, but it's not a Tampon ad. They know I'm there. The problem with this ad is the headline. Her Friends Will Be Jealous. It's a knee jerk line that wasn't written by someone who understands the nuances of writing advertising.

Do you think this placement cost anything? Sure it did. I have no idea how much, but it wasn't free. So ProFlowers paid for this ad to run. Thus, there's a reason it's there. Like with any banner ad, the goals here are to A) capture my attention and B) get me to click through. And yes, eventually buy - but an advertisement doesn't sell a damn thing. Except an idea. 

Anyway, like I said I'm not a flowers-on-Valentine's kinda guy and my man is cool with that. We'd rather spend that dough on going out to eat or a ....    ......  ........... or something. Flowers die. Experiences have the potential to last a lifetime. No eighty-year-old woman has ever said to her eighty-year-old husband, "Remember those carnations you sent to me on Valentine's day when we were 43? Such memories." 

Back to the point - this ad has a goal and is well placed. But then it assumes too much. Her Friends Will Be Jealous implies that I will buy these flowers. Meh. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. It's passive logic. And you can't afford to be passive when your audience isn't really paying attention. Passive logic in advertising is roadkill.

This headline should be Make Her Friends Jealous. Boom. It's quicker. It's a call-to-action. It's got some swagger. And most importantly, it's active voice.

I don't know if people would actually click through to the Pro Flowers site, but I do know from experience that people are more likely to act on a command than a hypothetical. Whenever you have the opportunity to tell your audience exactly what to do - do it.

And that, my friends, is how you write a headline for an ad. And as unsexy as it is, it needed to be stated. Thanks for reading my words!