Category Archives: print ads

Xerox: Real Business, Complicated

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This ad for Xerox isn’t visually appealing and the copy is filled with marketing-speak gobbledegook: Order-to-cash lifecycle, scalable solutions, measurable process efficiencies. I don’t even know what they’re selling.

What’s this ad doing in a consumer magazine like Wired? I don’t know, either.


By Marc Librescu

Movado: An Ad Worthy of an Art Museum

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There’s a class of ads for luxury brands found in upscale magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair that utilize images and little, if any, copy. The advertisers take it for granted that the reader is familiar with the brands, therefore no explanation is necessary.

Movado is one of the brands who advertise this way. According to Wikipedia:

The company is known for its iconic Museum Watch which is defined by a single gold dot symbolizing the sun at high noon, the hands suggesting the movement of the earth. The original Museum Watch was the first wrist watch to be displayed at the Museum of Modern Art and was designed by the American designer Nathan George Horwitt in 1947. Edward Steichen, the rewnowned photographer and director of the photography department at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, proclaimed Horwitt’s design “the only truly original and beautiful one for such an object”.

True to the artistic origins of the timepiece, the ad agency has crafted an image worthy of being framed and hung on the wall. We like it.


By Marc Librescu

Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise: Be Careful What You Ask

Hellmann's Mayonnaise

In this ad for their Real Mayonnaise, Hellmann’s (there really is no Hellmann’s anymore, it’s actually a company called Unilever) asks the question:

If we knew more about our food, would we eat better?”

Any reasonable person would answer “of course!” And Hellmann’s, um, Unilever, wants to you answer that way, too. End of story. Turn the page.

If you bother to stop and read the copy (which is made difficult to read by placing white type over a yellow background) you find this:

At Hellmann’s, we make our mayonnaise with real, simple ingredients like good eggs, delicious vinegar and oils rich in omega 3. So it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Lean about he Real Food Project at hellmanns.com.

When they say they use good eggs, it’s not clear whether they’re referring to the quality of the eggs or whether they’re stating that eggs are good for you. Either way, I’ll let this slide.

Strangely, they claim to use delicious vinegar. If I asked you to write a list of 10 adjectives to describe vinegar, would delicious make it onto the list? How about a list of 1,000 adjectives? I mean, who considers vinegar to be delicious? It’s acetic acid.

Can you imagine saying to your kid, “Here, Bobby, I poured you a nice cup of delicious vinegar. Drink it up!”

If you made your kid drink vinegar, social services would come to your house to take him away. The conversation would go something like this:

Social Services: We have a report that you made your son, Bobby, drink a glass of vinegar.
You: Yes, I did.
Social Services: Can you tell me why you did that?
You: Because vinegar is delicious!

The next thing you know, they’d hand you some paperwork with a hearing date and then escort little Bobby out the door where they would take him to a waiting van.

But I digress.

Mayonnaise is really just a fancy way of saying “oil and egg fat.” Here’s the nutritional information, taken from the company’s website:

A one-tablespoon serving contains 90 calories and 90 calories from fat. This is another way of saying that 100% of the calories come from fat. One tablespoon of the stuff has a whopping 10 grams of fat, which is as much fat as four chocolate chip cookies (source: Nutrition Lifestyles).

Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise also contains delicious EDTA. According to Wikipedia:

(EDTA) has been found to be both cytotoxic (emphasis mine) and weakly genotoxic in laboratory animals. Oral exposures have been noted to cause reproductive and developmental effects.

Cytotoxic means “toxic to cells.” Genotoxic is a little more complicated. According to Wikipedia:

Genotoxicity describes a deleterious action on a cell’s genetic material affecting its integrity. Genotoxic substances are known to be potentially mutagenic or carcinogenic, specifically those capable of causing genetic mutation and of contributing to the development of tumors.

In other words, EDTA is a potential cancer-casusing agent in laboratory animals.

At the bottom of the ad, in tiny print, it says that Helmann’s Real Mayonnaise contains “a small amount of EDTA to protect quality.” Small compared to what?

Is Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise healthy and good? You decide. Then ask yourself this question:

“If we knew more about our food, would we eat better?”

By Marc Librescu

Honda Insight is For Plain Volks

Honda Insight

Most cars are targeted at a specific niche market, but the folks at Honda have designed a car for the masses. This ad for the Insight proclaims: This car is for everyone! Buy one and be like everybody else!

The Insight is an inexpensive hybrid, designed to be the 21st century’s Trabant. Honda is attempting to reinvent the people’s car, a brave new car for citizens of the 21st century living in the age of the new Great Depression (at least those who still have jobs and can still afford to buy a new car). At a time when the government ignores the skyrocketing unemployment rate, and middle class people are bing forced into homelessness, it won’t be long before the Insight is the only new car that anyone will able to afford.

From Wikipedia:

Honda introduced the second-generation Insight in its home nation of Japan in February 2009, with releases in other markets expected through 2009. The new Insight went on sale in the U.S. on March 24, 2009. At $19,800 as a five-door hatchback, it is the least expensive hybrid available in the US.

“We know you’re broke,” Honda says. “This car is cheap. Look, we even put in an MP3 jack. How about that!”

This strategy has made the Insight wildly popular in Japan. In a culture that doesn’t place a high value on individuality, driving the same car as everybody else isn’t seen in the same negative light as it is in the United States.

But times change, and with them, their demands.

By Marc Librescu

Soyjoy Does a 180

SoyJoy

When I first posted about a Soyjoy ad back in 2008, the ad was so bad that it made me want to cry and scream and throw things around the room. The second time I posted about the product, I thought the ad looked great but was too generic (and I went off on my high-horse about possible problems from eating soy).

This ad pretty much nails it. The image merges blueberry, soy, and the yin-yang symbol. The headline, along with the image, tells the story:

Whole Soy. Real Blueberries. In Perfect Balance.

There isn’t a load of unnecessary copy for the reader to wade through. It just works.

By Marc Librescu

Silk Soy Milk Has the Beat

Silk soy milk

Nature never intended cow’s milk to be anything other than food for a baby cow. You drink milk because your parents fed it to you and told you it was healthy. The dairy industry told you it was healthy. You’ve been socialized to believe that milk is healthy.

If you don’t like milk, or you think it’s not healthy, you can drink soy milk.

This ad for Silk Soy Milk couldn’t be better. The message is contained in the image so perfectly that the reader doesn’t need a word of copy in order to understand the message: our product is healthy. As I’ve been saying here, people typically don’t stop to read copy, so advertisers need to get readers’ attention with arresting visuals that don’t rely on lots of copy to make the point.

I award this ad the prestigious 5 Monkeys!

By Marc Librescu

Sun-Maid Gets Surreal

Sun-Maid

You’re sitting on a California beach, enjoying the day. The sky is blue with just a hint of wispy clouds. You feel at peace as you listen to the sound of the gentle waves breaking against the shore.

Then you look up and you see her.

You can’t believe your eyes. It’s the Sun-Maid, you think, the girl from the raisin box. But it can’t be. She’s not real.

But there she is, and she’s doing yoga, right there on the sand. She’s even wearing the red bonnet. You want to talk to her, maybe take a photo to show to your friends back home.

Suddenly, inexplicably, a paintbrush materializes and paints a streak of red across the sky. The paint forms a shelf and products start to appear—packages of raisins and other dried fruit.

The Sun Maid tries to reach for the fruit but it’s too high. You run toward her.

Your next memory is of opening your eyes in an unfamiliar room. There’s a TV on the wall, near the ceiling. A nurse stands over you with a look of concern on her face.

“Where am I?” you ask.

“You’re in the hospital,” she says.

“How did I get here?”

“I’ll get the doctor.”

As the nurse walks out of the room, you notice she’s wearing a red bonnet.


By Marc Librescu