I ordered a tomato juice on a recent airline flight. The label on the can read
“100% Tomato Juice.” Below that, in fine print, “made from tomato concentrate, water and other ingredients.” Interesting definition of 100%
Huckster - One who uses aggressive, showy, and sometimes devious methods to promote or sell a product.
The older I get the less tolerant I am for advertising BS. Here's an ad for a car dealer in Illinois I heard the other day.
“Don’t miss our HUGE FOUR DAY SALE of unclaimed vehicles, over 1,000 new and used vehicles to be sold at a fraction of their original price.”
One thousand unclaimed vehicles… I can’t imagine someone taking a car in for service and not bothering to pick it up so perhaps these vehicles came from valet parking attendants who need to make room room. Is it possible that Toyota dropped the cars off at the dock and forgot about them or they were obtained from the flooded 9th Ward of New Orleans? “Unclaimed vehicles” my great white behind. They’ve got a thousand vehicles they haven’t been able to unload. Maybe the dealership figures people are too stupid to see through their sleight of hand use of words until it’s too late.
It wouldn’t surprise me if “sold at a fraction of their original price” amounted to about 99/100 of the MSRP either. If you can’t trust what someone says in their advertising, you probably can’t trust them at all. And we wonder why consumers are fed up with advertising.
Abraham Lincoln said it best, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”
I don’t clip and save coupons. It always seemed to me that I’d end up buying more stuff I didn’t need to “save” a few cents. However my wife Chris was going through an insert for one of the local grocery store chains over the weekend and thought I might enjoy reading the “rules” for their double discount coupon promotion.
Coupons will only be doubled on Wednesday June 21st. Customers must present the store’s club card at time of checkout. Customers must spend $25 in a single transaction in order to double coupons (after tax, store coupons and club card discounts). Only manufacturers coupons with a face value of a dollar or less will be doubled. A limit of 5 manufacturers coupons can be doubled.
Thank you sir may I have another.
If the thought of losing money on a promotion doesn’t appeal to you and you can’t justify the loss in order to increase store traffic then don’t do the promotion. The more time it takes to read the fine print, the weaker the idea. There are people who will jump through all these hoops to save an additional five dollars, most likely the same people who’ll make sure they spend $25 and not once cent more. In the meantime, the store comes across as a penny-pinching nit-picking miser. It doesn't make cents to me
The shortest distance between two headaches is the use of “for all your (blank) needs” in an advertisement. One of the websites I came across during my drafting stool adventure assured me that the company had “all my stool, chair, and office furniture needs.” I didn't want to discuss my “stool needs” with a stranger, but since they didn’t have the information I was looking for they didn’t have what I needed anyway.
Using “for all your needs” is a sign of a lazy writer. So how did an insurance agency’s ad writer managed to make it into work the day he or she used the phrase “for all your insurance needs” three times in one sixty-second ad? I thought my head was going to explode.
Four new entries to my growing list of “needs” were added in the past few weeks. “For all your dry cleaning needs,” “for all your outdoor grilling needs,” “for all your computer learning needs” (compliments of the infomercial guy) and “for all your swimming pool needs.” Is it any wonder that my devil-may-care light brown hair is turning gray?
I’m waiting for a cooking school to come out with “for all your kneading needs” and for a funeral home to use “for all your pre-need needs.”
In the meantime, if you see my pet, Peeve; tell him all is forgiven and to please come home.
Today’s tip for aspiring ad writers: When addressing a mass-market audience do not use the word “you” when referring to a specific group.
Here’s an example from an “Hour Detroit Magazine” press release: “…as we celebrate the Best of Detroit as voted by you - our readers.” In this instance, “you” is inaccurate since “I” have never read “Hour Detroit.” Eliminating “you” also improves the flow of your message. “…The Best of Detroit, as voted by our readers,”
I’ll keep the press release on hand as an example of the excessive use of adjectives and alliteration.
Immerse your senses in our town's most precious gems.* Enjoy creative cocktails, tantalizing tastes, exciting entertainment, sensational style and brilliant beauty at the first-ever Best of Detroit party Thursday, June 22 at the Max M. Fisher Music Center.
*They missed a grand opportunity to toss in “ our town's most glitteringly gaudy gorgeous gems.”
Have you ever sat in quicksand? I was sitting on my drafting stool working on a few ads the other day, when suddenly the seat began to sink. When you write on a 36” high workspace, a 22” chair is jus this side of useless. Picking my chin off the table, I Google” heavy duty drafting stool” and get 143,000 results in .48 seconds. This should be easy.
When you get right down to it, all gosh darn stools look pretty much the same. I found plenty of pictures but not much in the way of useful information. I needed to know if the “Buttomatic 2500 HD” takes more abuse than the “Task Master 20,” but it seems no one shares such useful data online.
Now a normal person might say, “Why don’t you just call someone and ask?” I’m a stubborn son-of-a-gun on a mission. That's why. After wasting a half hour on this project it wasn’t about finding a replacement stool, it was about finding the information.
Forty-five minutes later I was ready to throw in the towel. Sitting low on the horizon, hands straining to reach the keyboard I decided to see what Office Max might have available locally (Office Max didn’t show up on the first 10 or 15 pages of search results so I hadn’t been to their site). Suddenly, The Holy Grail of information appeared before my eyes; sizes, fabrics, descriptions of how much use each chair could handle. Feeling a bit like Goldilocks, I narrowed my choices based on Office Max's incredible search function. Now, the only thing I needed to know was whether $219 was a good price.
Office Chairs Unlimited had the same chair “open box,” for $40 less and I figured that as long as I was there I might as well see what else they carry... And there it was, the drafting chair of my dreams, sturdier, with arms and a better warranty than the Office Max chair for $10 less. Cahloo! Cahlay! Only one problem, I didn't know anything about Office Chairs Unlimited. Back to Google “Office Chairs Unlimited Reviews.” The 500 people who reviewed OCU on BizRate gave them a green smiley face. Sold. The chair should be here Monday or Tuesday.
What do people need to know when they come to your website? More often than not they need more than a picture and a brief description. “Waiting For Your Cat To Bark,” the incredible new book from Wizards Of The Web Brian and Jeff Eisenberg provides fantastic insight into the new world of empowered consumers. It’s great reading that even technophobes can understand.
A final note: I do not know much about the technical aspects of websites, so all I can say is that it must be magic that without registering the Office Chairs Unlimited checkout page had my billing and delivery address along with my email address already listed. Now isn’t that convenient?
WARNING: Watching viral videos at YouTube, IFilm or Yahoo while at work may adversely impact your next performance review.
In the press release, Doug Heinlein of The Art Institute of Seattle refers to a “viral video circa 2002-2003, featuring a chicken-man dancing in an apartment, it was sponsored by Kentucky Fried Chicken, but with no branding that you could see. They just wanted people to think about chickens." (more)
Here are today’s lessons:
First, do not take things your read as gospel – even press releases. The viral video Mr. Heinlein refers to is called “Subservient Chicken” a 2004 campaign sponsored by Burger King not KFC.
Second, being cute and memorable doesn’t equate to being effective. I'm sure Doug Heinlien has plenty of other things to think about and, like the rest of us, can’t be expected to remember everything. The purpose of the video was to promote (rather bizarrely) BK TenderCrisp. While the Burger King Logo opened the video and there were links to Burger King on the video’s page, the only thing most people remember is the chicken.
On the other hand this ads combines creativity with a memorable message.
Attempting to be creative for creativity’s sake is a gamble. To be sure, everyone will laugh and say how wonderful and funny you are. But what will the audience take away from the experience? The memory of failed campaigns and wasted dollars tend to stick with advertisers for a long long time.
It will be interesting to see if Virgin Mobile USA’s “Earn Airtime in Your Spare Time” incentive service gains enough traction to matter. Three national advertisers have signed on for the initial rollout; Microsoft with Xbox; Pepsi-Cola North America, with Diet Mountain Dew; and the American Legacy Foundation‘s truth® youth smoking prevention campaign.
Virgin’s Pay-As-You-Go customers will be invited to watch a streaming video advertisement then answer questions to show they watched the segment and understood key takeaways. Correct answers earn free airtime minutes. Subscribers may also earn airtime by opting-in to SMS messages containing advertisements or discounts.
Virgin's program is a new twist on the video-on-demand model from ultramercial.com that grants users “free” access to premium content if they choose to watch full-screen multi-page commercials as an alternate form of payment.
Time is money - the more you spend of one the more you'll save of the other. It might be easier and less intrusive to pay a couple bucks for direct access to the content you want than sit through commercials. That's one of the reasons we pay to see movies in the theater isn't it... hey wait a minute!
I missed the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee last night. Despite the vivid recollection such events trigger, I congratulate this year’s champion 13-year-old Katharine Close of New Jersey. This year's winning word was "ursprache."
I remember participating in one and only one spelling bee. I was in 3rd or 4th grade at Fairlane Elementary in Taylor, Michigan. Upon hearing the word (and without thinking) I spelled Q – U –T –E.