Olympus E-3 Digital Camera

Copywriter and SEO professional Marc Librescu reviews ads on AdMonkey.

While this ad for the Olympus E-3 camera features a great photo, it’s not a great ad.

The first (and only) thing the reader notices is an absolutely arresting photo of someone who looks like an Indian or an Australian Aborigine.

If the reader’s eye ever leaves the photo before turning the page, this is the headline:

YOU DON’T TAKE THE DETAILS FOR GRANTED.
NEITHER DOES THE OLYMPUS E-3.

The reader might think that the ad is trying to say that this camera is good at recording details such as the beard hairs, the pores in the skin, and the cracks in the paint on the subject’s forehead.

That’s the message I came away with after seeing this ad in various magazines. If you asked me what company the ad was for, I would have said Cannon. Let’s be honest, if you buy a Nikon, Cannon, or Olympus digital SLR, you’re going to get a camera with superb optics.

But that’s not the message of the ad. They’re actually saying that as a photographer, you don’t take the details for granted (whatever that means) and the engineers at Olympus paid a lot of attention to the details when they built the camera. In order to understand this message, the reader has to read the box of copy at the bottom of the page, which the designers of this ad have made all but impossible by making the box semi-transparent. The text fights with the texture of the beard and makes reading this copy a chore.

Let’s go back and re-state what marketers should, but don’t understand:

  1. People don’t read ads. Most people will simply turn the page.
  2. The best you can hope to do is use an image that makes your point and link it with your product in a way that gets the message across in a glance.
  3. If you need lots of copy to make your point, you need to rethink your ad.
  4. If you ignore #3 and think that you have to include lots of copy, make the headline so compelling that the reader has to read it. A headline that reads: FREE GOLD gives the reader a reason to read the accompanying copy. And the copy had better explain how the reader can get free gold or the deal is off.
  5. If you’re going to include lots of copy in your ad, at least make it clear and easy to read. If the reader has to work to read your ad copy, you’re ensuring that no one will read it.

Olympus has created an ad with a compelling image. Unfortunately, that’s all that the reader is going to remember.

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