From an 81/2 x 11 inch advertising insert in last Sunday's newspaper:
We will perform Hearing Screenings AT NO CHARGE for the first 30 callers to determine if you are a candidate for amplification. Applicants that are selected will be asked to wear the latest hearing aid technology. You will be allowed to hear all the things you may be missing. Participants who wish to keep the instruments can do so at a tremendous savings. This offer is good at time of appointment so call now
Candidates will be selected by May 31, 2006.
Those interested need to call for an appointment
Coupon Expires May 31, 2006
My BS-O-Meter started clicking faster than a Geiger counter at 3 Mile Island. There is nothing in this text that is legally actionable, but it’s misleading as hell and I’m sure several hundred people responded thinking they were getting something special.
This type of advertising hype is out – honest, real communication is in. Come on, I bet this company tests anyone anytime for free and if you take the test you'll have to deal with high pressure sales tactics and endless follow-up phone calls. False time and/or quantity limits and meaningless or vague deadlines destroys credibility. Statements such as, “Hurry sales ends soon” drive me crazy too, but we’ll deal with that another time (the statements, not my craziness).
Tips for the ad writer:
Pick a personal pronoun perspective and stick with it. This ad bounces between third person (they) and second person (you) so often, the reader becomes dizzy.
Watch your syntax. Exactly how will performing "hearing screenings for the first 30 callers" determine if I am a candidate for amplification?
Watch the use of industry buzzwords - "amplification?"
Use the passive voice sparingly. Half of the sentences in this ad are passive. Not that anyone would notice.
Remember, if you want better response write better ads.