Tag Archives: print ads

What is Sony Selling?

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For the most part, I like this ad by Sony for their Organic LED technology. It has a product shot and a good headline.

But it’s not an ad for a particular product—it’s an ad for a technology. A reader who sees this ad and wants to buy one of these thin TVs is going to be hard-pressed to know what it is he should look for in the store. Sure, he could go to the web site and read more about it, but why should he have to?

Talk about a blown opportunity…

Pur, But Not Simple


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In this ad, Pur violates one of my rules: don’t get cute with handwritten lettering that is difficult to read. I had to read the ad a few times before I understood what it was trying to say—that you don’t need to buy bottled water if you have a Pur filter.

I’ll say it again to anyone who cares to listen:

Handwritten type is difficult to read. Magazine readers don’t care about your product enough to stop and try to figure out your nonsense.

Vicks DayQuil: Where’s the Fruit?

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I like the image of the pill/orange combination that Vicks DayQuil Plus Vitamin C uses in this ad. The orange imparts the message that the product contains vitamin C.

There aren’t many ways to say vitamin C visually other than using an orange. But the orange implies that the product is going to taste like an orange. Since the product is a capsule, it doesn’t taste like anything. The orange also implies that there’s some natural fruit benefit to the product, which is why they ran a tiny disclaimer at the bottom of the page that no one can or will read:

Does not contain juice or fruit-based ingredients.

Pace’s Pepper is Ready for Action

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“We’ve Got A Secret Weapon For Breeding the Perfect Jalapeño,” says the headline in this ad for Pace Picante Sauce. Then they talk about the “Stud Pepper.”

The image shows a bowl of chili and a pepper on a wooden table. But the table isn’t the only wood in the photo—the real secret weapon in this ad is the pepper doing double duty as a man-sword, ready for action, and pointing to a large crack in table.

If you think this is just an accident, take a look at this. I’ve traced over the area you should be paying attention to:

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But surely an advertiser wouldn’t be hiding sexual imagery in an ad? Well, sorry, but it appears that they have. I’m not aiming to become the new Wilson Bryan Key, but it doesn’t take a genius to see what they’re trying to do here.

Nabisco Has Gone Crackers

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In order to really appreciate the madness of this ad in all its ridiculous glory, click on the image to see the larger version.

Memo to Nabisco: This might be the time to start drug testing your ad agency. Magical crackers…uh huh.

Samsung’s Flight of Fancy

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I really like the illustration of the telescopes gazing up at the moon. It reminds me of  an animated movie.

But looking at the illustration, one wonders, what is Samsung selling here? Telescopes? The moon?

The reader looks to the headline for answers:

When stunning contrast makes staying home
feel like a once-in-a-lifetime event,
imagination lives.

This still doesn’t explain what’s being advertised. But wait, there’s an image of an LCD TV (or is it a computer monitor?).

When we add up the three components of the ad, we can work out the message of the ad: stunning contrast in Samsung’s TVs makes staying home and watching their TV seem like you’re watching a once-in-a-lifetime event.

We can distill this down to: Our TVs look great.

There’s an element of risk here. Samsung is betting that their illustration is so compelling that the reader will devote the time it will take to look at all the elements in the ad and read all the copy in order to piece together the message.

If we read the copy at the bottom of the page, we can finally understand exactly what this ad is about:

With its LED SmartLighting generating a dynamic contrast ratio of 1,000,000 to 1, Samsung’s new 950 LCD creates by far our most incredible picture yet. This is one sight you don’t want to miss.

This explains it, although it sounds a little bit like rocket science. It’s also awkward: “…creates by far our most incredible picture yet.” Who wrote that mess? What’s wrong with “…creates our most incredible picture yet?”

Finally, the copywriter got a little too creative when he wrote “imagination lives” in the headline. Watching TV is passive—it doesn’t engage the viewer’s imagination. Reading a book engages the imagination.

Verizon Wireless: Don’t Touch Me There

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I’m going to ignore that this Verizon Wireless ad for BlackBerry Storm contains the words “And looky here” in the headline.

This ad came from Wired. The ad is touts that you can watch streaming videos on the BlackBerry Storm. The image of the BlackBerry in the ad shows a video playing.

The credits for the video read:

Jonas Brothers
Lovebug
A Little Bit Longer

The readers of Wired probably aren’t big fans of the Jonas Brothers. When Wired readers mention “the Jonas Brothers,” the word “sucks” probably follows.

If you’re trying to sell a product, it’s important to make sure that you’re placing the right ad in the right magazine.