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Archive for the 'Advertising' Category

277% Better

December 29th, 2007 by Bob Bly

A TV commercial for Zone Pilates said the product is “277% more effective.”

This begs the question: 277% more effective than what?

Other Pilates machines? Ordinary Pilates with no equipment? Sit-ups? Going to the gym? Richard Simmons?

The rule in writing is that when you compare something, you have to say what you are comparing it to.

My rewrite: “Zones Pilates are 277% more effective than doing ordinary Pilates.”

Now, isn’t that better?

Or do you think implied in the statement “277% more effective” is the idea that it is more effective than ordinary Pilates — and that it’s so obvious, it doesn’t need to be stated?


Category: Advertising | 293 Comments »

More Sloppy Copy

November 27th, 2007 by Bob Bly

Yet another example of a copywriter not choosing words carefully is the radio commercial I heard today for PC Richards, a local electronics retailer.

The offer promoted in this commercial is free high-definition (HD) channels on I/O cable when you buy a new HDTV from PC Richards.

The copy suggests that with the money you save getting free cable, “you can spend a little more on a TV.”

We get what they mean, but somehow, it came out wrong. What consumer buying a TV wants to spend more money on it?

My rewrite: “With the money you save getting free cable, you’ll be able to afford the TV you really want — even that new wide-screen for watching the game this Sunday.”

What do you think of my rewrite — better, worse, or neutral?

Do you agree that the original “you can spend more” missed the mark?


Category: Advertising, General | 55 Comments »

Is Taurus Full of Bull?

September 13th, 2007 by Bob Bly

A recent radio spot for Ford Taurus focuses on safety.

It says that just as you wear a bicycle helmet to ride your bike safely, you need a car built for safety — like Taurus — to drive safely.

In the spot, when a child wants to ride his bike sans helmet, the father tells him: “Put on that helmet or no video games!”

This spot was clearly not written by a parent.

Because a parent would know that the appropriate punishment for not wearing a helmet would be to take away the bicycle — not the XBox.

Consequences must be relevant to the behavior.

My point?

The Taurus spot rings false to me because of this error.

As a result, it distracted me from the sales message about cars, and caused the advertiser to lose some credibility in my eyes.

Am I the only one who has this reaction and too much of a nitpiker?

Or do you agree that any inaccuracies or inconsistencies in copy distract the prospect from the sales message and diminish the advertiser’s credibility?


Category: Advertising, General | 7,893 Comments »

Why I Don’t Admire Jerry Della Famina

August 28th, 2007 by Bob Bly

I’m a fan of David Ogilvy. Rosser Reeves. James Webb Young.

But Jerry Della Femina? Not so much.

Della Femina was interviewed by the NY Post (8/27/07, pp. 38-39) for an article on the differences in the ad agency business of the 1960s vs. today.

Laments Della Femina: “It went from being a business of fun to being a business of money, and that changes everything.”

Pity Della Femina’s poor clients, whose ad agency — Della Femina — thought its mission was to have fun with the client’s money, and not turn it into more money.

Adds Della Femina, explaining how he and his colleagues could have the proverbial 3-martini lunch every day and then go back to work: “The only thing that made it possible was that the people you were dealing with were as drunk as you are.”

I’m sure Della Femina clients would have loved knowing that Jerry and his staff were bombed when working on all those costly ad campaigns.

I have fun every day as a freelance copywriter — more fun than anyone has a right to have at work and still call it “work.”

But having fun is a side effect of loving what I do and (I think) doing it at a reasonable level of competence.

My objective, however, is always to make the client’s marketing make more money.

That’s what he’s paying me for. Not to have a party.


Category: Advertising, General | 146 Comments »

Free Speech in Advertising?

April 10th, 2007 by Bob Bly

Gail Tomas, a 65-year-old opera singer, saved her life through advertising.

According to an article in The Week (4/13/07, p. 16), Ms. Tomas ran a “kidney needed” notice on an organ donor Web site.

Paul Wagner, a 40-year-old businessman, responded — giving Gail one of his kidneys and saving her life.

Now, Dr. Douglas Hanto, a transplant surgeon, thinks advertising for a donor online should be made illegal.

His argument: people who get organs through online advertising are jumping the line on the national organ donor list.

The article notes that of the 70,000 people needing a kidney transplant in the United States, half will die waiting, because organs are in short supply.

Do you think advertising for a kidney … or a heart … or a child to adopt … or any other important essential should be banned?

Or if you needed these things, would you conduct an aggressive marketing campaign to secure what you require — either for you or a loved one?


Category: Advertising, General | 119 Comments »

Censorship and Sponge Bob?s Evil Empire

January 23rd, 2006 by Bob Bly

According to an article in the Daily News (1/19/06), the Center for Science in the Public Interest is suing both Nickelodeon and Kellogs for advertising Frosted Flakes on the cartoon TV show ?Sponge Bob Square Pants.?

They contend that it?s immoral and harmful to use a popular cartoon character to convince kids to eat ?junk food.?

What planet do these people live on? Compared to other stuff my kids eat, like candy and soda, Frosted Flakes are health food. Yes, they have sugar. But cereal is good for kids to eat — they get fiber and vitamins — and they consume milk with it.

To me, this lunacy is an example of censorship gone over the edge. Do you agree?


Category: Advertising | 45 Comments »

AT&T?s Art Director Gets a D+

January 3rd, 2006 by Bob Bly

I was reading the Daily News today and came across a 2-page spread that is part of AT&T?s new global positioning campaign.

The headline is in small blue type. The body copy is in reverse, in tiny white type. Both are on a black background.

Using reverse type in body copy, at best a risky proposition in magazine advertising, is a deadly sin in newspaper advertising.

Reason: the ink spreads more on the cheaper newsprint paper, encroaching into the white letters, and making the body copy almost unreadable.

I am sure that AT&T uses a big Madison Avenue ad agency to handle their advertising — and it is amazing to me that a professional art director on Madison Avenue does not know this simple design principle.


Category: Advertising, General | 41 Comments »

Is Madison Avenue Advertising a Total Fraud?

December 5th, 2005 by Bob Bly

There are certain industries with inherent flaws that make them, at best, marginally effective.

Traditional book publishing, with too much product (almost 200,000 new books published each year) and returns from bookstores to publishers in the 30% to 50% range, is one of them.

I believe that the ad agency business as practiced today also has a built-in flaw that dooms the majority of it to mediocrity at best, and an outright drain on corporate productivity at worst.

Reason: despite protests to the contrary, Madison Avenue, as evidenced by national ad campaigns, has as its primary objective creativity, not sales.

Example: the Six Flags TV ad campaign with the crazy dancing old guy (rumored to be a young woman in makeup) was the talk of the ad agency world ? widely acclaimed for its humor, energy, and cleverness.

But, according to Parade magazine (8/21/05), after spending a stomach-churning $72 million on the campaign, Six Flags reported the results: no increase in attendance ? and not a drop of added revenue.

That?s a return on investment (ROI) of less than zero, putting Six Flags $72 million in the hole on this marketing boondogle.

Or do you have a different view? Maybe you think the dancing guy was worth it because it ?gained attention? or contributed to ?branding.?

Or maybe you think Six Flags is the exception, not the rule ? and Madison Avenue really, truly does care about making the cash register ring, not just winning Clio awards.

What say you?


Category: Advertising | 69 Comments »