Hotel Nikko San Francisco: The Sound of One Hand Clapping

Hotel Nikko San Francisco has taken an interesting image, coupled it with a generic headline, and created an ad that ultimately says nothing.

The image of a woman sleeping inside an oyster with a pearl in it has these associations:

  • comfort
  • luxury
  • safety
  • happy as a clam (yeah, I know, it’s an oyster)

The headline:

Clear your mind. Rest your soul.

But what’s the ad for? We don’t know because the ad doesn’t tell us.

This could be an ad for:

  • A mattress manufacturer
  • A company that sells mattresses
  • A company that makes expensive sheets
  • A company that sells expensive sheets
  • A pharmaceutical company that manufactures a pill that cures insomnia

Nothing in the ad says hotel. The only way we know this is an ad for a hotel is by getting in the car and making the long drive down to the lower right corner where we find the words: Hotel Nikko San Francisco.

The name of the hotel should have been prominent in this ad. After all, does the advertiser want the reader to remember a woman sleeping in an oyster or Hotel Nikko San Francisco?

There could have been an additional image that says hotel, maybe a photo of the hotel. This way, someone turning the page sees: HOTEL NIKKO, San Francisco, luxury hotel, comfortable hotel.

This is another case of an advertiser who is so enamored with themselves that they forgot whom they’re targeting. Of course the reader is going to read all of our ad, they think. Maybe they’ll frame it and hang it in their living room.

Earth to Hotel Nikko: Most readers haven’t heard of your hotel and they don’t care about your hotel. They aren’t going to pore over your carefully crafted ad to find the name of the hotel down at the bottom of the page and then stop to figure out what you’re trying to say. They’re going to see a woman sleeping in an oyster, some type in a script typeface, and then they’re going to turn the page.


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