Rants on all the ads that suck. Updated whenever it tickles my fancy to do so. Now moved to http://adsthatsuck.ca

THIS SITE HAS MOVED TO http://www.adsthatsuck.ca

4/18/2005

Those who can't...

When you're on the lookout for ads that suck, every once in a while you find a gem that sucks so much, you can't even help finding out what it's for, just so you can tell other people how much it sucks.

"But wait," you say. "Doesn't the mere fact that you're talking about the ad make it a good ad?"

No. It most certainly does not. I talk about ads because it's what I do all day and sometimes all night. Most people don't care, and if you want to drive a message home, you have to do it in a way that actually gets through to them.

I was walking home from work the other day, when I saw this:


Quick! What does it mean? Who is it by? What does it want you to do?

This is a prime example of a whole campaign that sucks, from planning to execution.

As I stared, confronted with this giant, meaningless "200" I thought to myself, "Wow. This sucks." I squinted to see who was the creator of this monolith of suckery, and ultimately had to cross the street and stop and stare, just to find out who this thing was for.

Turns out the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario.

So I thought "200 what?" Are they working 200 hours per month? Do they want to put a cap on students they see in a day? You obviously want something bad enough to make a billboard out of it... don't keep me in suspense here.

Having the benefit of a number of friends who are teachers, I asked them what the billboard meant. None of them knew.

So, so far - the general public doesn't understand your message, and your own stakeholders don't understand your message.

So consumed with the need to know the depths of how much this ad sucked, I turned to my good friend Google. It took me no less than twenty minutes to find some kind of context for this billboard, and it turned out that the explanation is that elementary teachers want 200 minutes of prep time. After another five minutes of pouring over documents on the site, it turns out they want this every week.

Ok. So why not say that?

Instead, they opt to go with a cryptic message and a poorly designed treatment in a medium that isn't going to hit their target audience with the frequency or impact that they need. Combine this with the fact that one can barely tell who the ad is by and the fact that their website took me twenty minutes to find, and you've got yourself a colossal waste of money.

What could they do better? Ultimately, this is an advocacy ad. This type of ad has to be especially clear because it has no branding or memetic devices to back it up, and it has to be addressed to the right audience, because advertising budgets are normally tight.

If you're going to hit the general public with this kind of message, at least do it clearly. This is obviously more aimed at policy decision makers, so why not spend that money talking directly to them in a clear way? I'm sure there are parts of this campaign that I haven't seen, but even the supporting material on their website is weak.

The lesson here: If you're not going to be clear, there's no point in speaking at all.

2 Comments:

Blogger Joe Boughner said...

See, I saw that and thought I was encouraged to try to hit 200 km/h along Bank Street.
Try explaining THAT to the nice officer.

4/18/2005 02:10:00 PM

 
Anonymous GutterGurl said...

I saw that one on Bank St as well, and stood there with evileddy staring at it for a while trying to figure it out. We crossed the street, rented a movie, came back, stared some more and still didn't get it.

We assumed we were just too stupid to figure it out. Not that your blog invalidates that theory at all, but it's good to know we weren't alone. ;)

4/22/2005 09:29:00 AM

 

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