Qwest Business: Minutes to Midnight

Today’s ad is for Qwest Business. I didn’t accidentally cut off the right side of the ad. This is how it ran.

First off, the ad is poorly designed. It looks like someone slapped it together during their coffee break:

I got an idea! I’ll just outline my mousepad and fill it in with black! I’ll show those people who say you need to learn design in order to be a graphic designer just how wrong they are!

To be fair, the graphic designer isn’t always to blame. Sometimes the owner of the company or some other higher-up thinks he knows design better than the designer, and dictates what the designer should do. The graphic designer knows it’s crap, but he needs to eat, so he does what he’s told.

I not sure what this ad is trying to say. It says that you can receive integrated voice and data solutions, which will help you avoid distractions. They don’t say how the integrated voice and data solutions help you avoid distractions. I assume they mean that they’ll run smoothly, but I don’t really know.

Why not just say what they mean?

Instead, they got clever and mixed the message up with the metaphor of the energy crisis. The reader sees conserve oil and save energy, and thinks Qwest is saying something about going green and saving energy.

Here we have the same old problem of advertisers who think like advertisers instead of like readers. Readers aren’t paying attention. Readers don’t want to read ads because ads are an annoyance. Consumers have trained themselves to tune out all forms of advertising. If advertisers want to catch a consumer’s attention, they had better craft an ad that is so well-constructed that the reader won’t simply glance at it and then turn the page.

At one time, I worked in sales for a legal publishing company. I called lawyers on the phone and sold them legal books and journals. The lawyers were busy. They didn’t particularly want to talk to me.

I knew that I had a book that would help the lawyer on the phone do his job. I had to explain to him howthe book would help him do his job and why it was worth more than what it would cost. Quickly.

I didn’t call the attorney and say:

“Hello, Mr. Jones. Conserve the midnight oil. Save your energy.”

If I had said that, he would have hung up on me.

In a print ad, readers don’t hang up the phone. They turn the page.


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