Saturday, April 21, 2012

Are you simple enough for advertising?

         The first rule of advertising is K.I.S.S. --- keep it simple, stupid. I'm guessing that half the time in the advertising business is spent by people trying to complicate things.

         If your product is a car that runs on water instead of gasoline, for example, that's all you really have to say. "The car that runs on water."

         There will always be someone who tries to be cute ("The car that drinks only H2O"). Or technical ("The car with the Aquafire engine that sucks energy out of water"). Or hyper ("An automotive first for the 21st Century! Leave it to Columbia Motors to bring you the newest thing in engines since combustion!")

         When all you have to say is "The car that runs on water".

         Mies Van Der Rohe said "Less is more". Strunk and White, in their little book "The Elements of Style", put it more bluntly: "adjectives bleed nouns".

         Would you really tell a friend about a car that drinks only H2O? Not if you like him. The best advertising should be like you're talking to a friend, whom you happen to like. Your friends aren't dumb.

          Maybe some advertising people don't think they're earning their pay if they just blurt out the truth. They go through their whole careers doing ads that sound like ads, instead of sounding like they've got something to tell you that you'll be pleased with.

          Flo, on the other hand, keeps everything simple. She explains the advantages of Progressive car insurance in a charming way, in terms you can understand. And you love her for it.

          Allstate takes a more dramatic approach with "Mayhem".  But Mayhem doesn't pull his punches. He demonstrates exactly the destruction you need to be prepared for.

         Sounds like it's time to go back to basics. What you say is more important than how you say it. The visual is to attract attention, tghe headline is to get your interest. One benefit per ad.

        And yes, you can win awards being simple. Think of "Got milk?" The commercials that don't win awards are the ones making everything complicated.

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