Advertising and marketing executives say their business is art, craft and science, and Scott G admits that may be true about a third of the time. Consider a few current ad campaigns that leave potential customers exhilarated or puzzled, intrigued or disgusted.

When presenting ad concepts to clients, much is made of positioning a product in the minds of a target audience. What is often overlooked is the message that resonates in a consumer’s mind after viewing or hearing an ad. It’s what is known as the “take aways.”

Scott G casts a shaded eye on current advertisingThe ultimate test of a campaign lies in the sales figures for the product, but behind those numbers are the feelings that well up in the hearts and minds of potential customers. There are immediate and long-term take aways, but for the examples below, I can only speculate about the short-term effects since most of the campaigns are new (or they’re new to me).

Note: the take aways listed here are all IMHO. Feel free to post your own reactions below.

The TT coupe and roadster models are being introduced to the public in a magnificent-looking multimedia campaign that leadoff with superbly edited fifteen-second commercials featuring a section with what they claim are .02-second-long images. Take aways: Audi = design, sleek, new, power, style, grace, and climax.

Because BMW has a full line of cars and two boxy truck-like vehicles, there are multiple campaigns running at the same time, making for an easy take away: BMW = unfocused, confused, attempting to be all things to all people.

Individually, they have two commercials appearing here in Los Angeles, one for their behemoth vehicles that discusses the cupholders (!) and I won’t dignify this with any mention of what consumers might make of it. The other utilizes “Spiderman”-style animation of flora rapidly growing out of the roadway and turning into a car. Take aways: BMW = evil, unreal, slithery, silly.

Mercury Mariner
The current TV ad for this minibehemoth features “Day of the Triffids”-style animation of flora rapidly growing out of the roadway and turning into an SUV. Take-aways: Mariner = stupid, unreal, pollinated, silly.

Charles Schwab
Taking live-action “scripted interview” footage and converting it to posterized cartoons, this is one of the more reviled campaigns of recent months. Is it eye-catching? Yes, which may be good enough for Schwab to score some points in top-of-mind awareness studies. But the vignettes are so mundane that you would need violent and semi-porn anime to hold any interest. Take aways: Schwab = whiners, losers, petty people.

There are about 45 different campaigns for various vehicles in their numerous product lines. Can you name some of them? I’ll wait.


Right, that’s my point. I have no idea what the hell they’re doing except for the super sleek music and cinematography in the commercial for the Caddy truck monstrosity I wrote about a few columns ago. Perhaps that’s why GM’s VP of Marketing and Advertising for North America is leaving as of June 15. The truly weird part of the GM announcement is where they say the position won’t be filled.

K9 Advantix
This advertiser insists on showing horribly bad spots, one containing a dog singing “Ain’t No Bugs On Me” and the other with a dog singing new lyrics to “Dance of the Hours” from La Gioconda. The composer, Amilcare Ponchielli, died in 1886, and thus isn’t around to defend himself. These embarrassments manage to reach new levels of annoyance. They also mention their competitor, Frontline Plus, in an attempt to get consumers to confuse or equate the two products, presumably because Frontline holds the leadership position in the category. Take aways: K9 Advantix = manipulative, unprincipled, calculating, heartless. (Of course, since they kill ticks and fleas, perhaps those are not bad take aways.)

I’ve written favorably about their “human element” campaign before, and now they’re extending it with beautiful work on behalf of the Blue Planet Run. Outstanding work. Take aways: Dow = caring, quality, commitment.

Finally, everyone can name several dozen firms in their own city with ads full of shouting announcers, screaming headlines, bursts, snipes, giant type, tons of exclamation points, and not one second or one square inch of an ad that doesn’t contain some sort of sales message. This is the advertising equivalent of bludgeoning you to death and taking your wallet.

But you know what? These awful things often work. As someone who values wit, taste and style, I hate to admit that these abominations are frequently effective. And what makes them work? The take aways: ugly, shouting, messy, crapola ads = cheap. And cheap = lower prices.

So, consumers, if you like bad ads, just keep on purchasing products pitched to you with crummy marketing.

[tags]advertising industry news, marketing mistakes, gman, consumers interpret advertising, Scott G, horrible shouting ads [/tags]