Adverts on the 101

I’m a big fan of adverts and advertising. It’s fascinating to study how a company uses space it has bought where it can transmit any message it chooses. Often companies inadvertently advertise the one thing they are most worried about, such as oil companies telling you how environmentally friendly they are.

On a trip back from Mountain View today, three billboard advertisements caught my eye. Not because of their creativity, but their lack of it:

AT&T – has a series of text-based ads around the theme of ‘Your world – delivered’. The concept might be fine on paper but the execution results in a huge ad with two words – ‘Blogging – delivered’ or ‘Podcasting – delivered’. What has AT&T got to do with blogging or podcasting? Nothing. They’re simply two things you can get via the Internet. You can see the logic in the brainstrom: Blogging is popular. We want to be popular. Let’s associate ourselves with blogging, then we’ll be popular. Oh dear. I’m looking forward to ‘Pornography – delivered’ and ‘Gambling – delivered’.

Delta Airlines – has a baffling ad, also text-based which says ‘Enjoy Buda – Fly to Pest.’ No doubt this is something to do with an offer on trips to Hungary. But what does it say? Aren’t we clever, we know that Budapest was once two separate towns? Won’t people going to Hungary already know that? And if they don’t, will they care? Perhaps the aim is to get us talking since it’s so odd, but how does this help actual ticket sales?

Cingular – one of the disadvantages of advertising is that it’s source biased. You are bound to say your product or service is fabulous. The audience knows this so discounts your message. Given that dynamic, Cingular is running a series of ads which simply state ‘Cingular is the best network in the Bay Area’. Just a plain statement. Not according to some third party, just their own opinion. Why? It’s yet another text-heavy ad which is out of keeping with the brand entirely. Doesn’t this say more about Cingular’s opinion of the intelligence of its audience than it does about the network.

These are great companies, but it does go to show we all run short of ideas sometimes. Given these spots costs about $30,000 per month, it’s an expensive way to prove it though.

  • I love watching ads myself.
    It’s so interesting to see what companies will come up with.
    A couple good ones I’ve seen are PG&E, which has a TV spot with a young boy playing with his mates at day care. He says his action figure is powered by the renewable energies of sun, water and wind. It’s cute and funny. I was thinking how hard it would be to take something as boring and banal as PG&E and create something genius like that ad.
    Another I’ve seen is for a local credit union here in the city I live in. Their slogan is “Be a Localist.” The commercials feature everyday people and flashes of text come on the screen that say “donate to a thrift store,” “visit an art gallery,” “visit a local farm.” Stuff like that. The music really drives the commmercial as well, but the idea is very powerful.

  • Owen – good examples. See how PG&E are advertising small kids and clean energy precisely because that’s what they’re worried about. That’s not the core of their business, I’ll wager.
    Like the credit union one – you’d be disloyal not to use them 😉