I've gotten emails from people recently asking me if certain ads suck. One of the ones that came up was the Virgin Mobile teaser campaign that directed you to curethecatch.ca.
In my opinion - no, that campaign didn't suck. But it leads to a larger question about teaser advertising; a tactic that has become more and more common over the last few years.
Teaser advertising is usually used for product launches and announcements, and consists of a cryptic ad campaign followed about two weeks later by the "answer" to the advertising riddle. The goal is obviously to create buzz, to get people asking about the ad, to generate interest or to sign up for updates to the announcement.
This can be hit or miss. The Virgin campaign was good for two reasons:
1. It made a major announcement (the introduction of another cell phone company in Canada)
2. The cryptic message backed up their unique sales proposition - their plan had no "catch"
A good example of a miss was one for a drug called Diane-35. The company launched an outdoor campaign with a horribly acne-scarred young woman and the caption "Meet Diane." Two weeks later, she was clean-faced and the caption read "Look at Diane now!" and had a logo for the drug.
What's the difference? Prescription acne medication for women only isn't exactly a huge announcement, to say nothing of the fact that 50% of their CPM was wasted on men who can't use the drug (unless they want to be chemically castrated). This campaign would have been better kept to women's magazines.
It should also be noted that this campaign was against direct-to-consumer advertising laws and was pulled very quickly. Also a bad/completely unethical move.
So, unless you have a huge announcement or a big ad budget burning a hole in your pocket, teaser advertising is probably among the worst ways to spend your money. Create buzz through viral marketing, through contests and PR. It's much less of a gamble.