Thursday, July 07, 2011

News Of The World - Feeds Cancer to Puppy's hacking

In Marketing, in Sales, in the neurosis that is us living in the very late 21st Century there's a deep rooted fear that we share with our medieval forebears - THE DARK.

The dark is an unknown place, a place without guide or light and ultimately a place without hope.

The Oxford English describes it thus;

1 [no object] plan and direct the course of a ship, aircraft, or other form of transport, especially by using instruments or maps:they navigated by the stars the stars, by light, by direction.

Ok, Ok, enough of the cheap Gothic novella but it leads a lads mind to thinking. Each and every year we get to read the many lists of trends we will or wont see and one particular thought that I've been mulling over is; will we see a trend towards a "Great Switch Off", stemming from the perpetual night of a disappointed and despondent socially connected online world?

Privacy and the abuse and/or protection of has become a very national sport in the UK over the last few days and yet over 89.3% of Facebook users between the ages of 24 - 63 on questioning realised they had 3 or more pieces of  personal data that if combined would easily lead to full identity theft, all posted on Facebook and freely available to their friends, friends of friends (ad infinitum*) network.

We had brands scrabbling to gain commercial advantage by dissasociciating themsleves and declaring themselves the owners of the moral high ground, by their very public decloration of dissasociation the moral indignation of the very readership of the NoW was enflamed.

I had a very interesting conversation with a Vfamous travel brand - which in a nutshell (and without revealing or getting myself into litigation) resulted in the following conclusion.

word hotel: are you in NoW this weekend

Vtravelbrand: (read this with moral indignation and a bit of a posh voice) what the F'#[[ of course not, such beahviour, bloody rotten show... blah, blah, blah

word hotel: I hear they're still pushing the same rate card.....!

Vtravelbrand: yes and everyone knows the circulation will be halved.........

word hotel: so; your not advertising 'cos of phone hacking? or because such a contraction of the audience doesn't justify the ROI

Vtravelbrand: Just Fuck off 'word hotel' we'll spin it as moral high ground but we all know City a.m. will have a bigger distribution than the NoW, if we stayed in it would be equal to feeding cancer to puppies.

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 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!