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Welcome to I'm Not Buying That, the blog where we dissect the woeful mistakes of the advertising industry. I'm your host, CJ Garrett, and I view terrible ads so you don't have to.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

No Dead Baby Jokes, Please

Context matters in advertising.

...Wow, CJ, you didn't start a post with snark and/or swearing! Are you feeling alright? Yes, of course. This is just important, is all. Sometimes we must dispense with the funnies when making a point, and talk in the third person to make ourselves feel superior. Anyway - onward to fun and hijinks!

Context matters when you're advertising a specific thing to a specific audience. Like, putting up ads for feminine hygiene products in the men's room - and that did happen at least once. It's the most basic thing that whoever is likely to see your ad should also be the ones who are most likely to want to buy it if it's brought to their attention. Cause and effect, see? Customer see product, customer want product, customer buy product. Anything that interferes with this - like your own dumbass decisions - is going to affect the end result of SALES and PILES OF MONEY.

So yeah, context matters. The right advert hitting the right eyeballs at the right time. Put that all together and you've got the making of a decent marketing strategy, but again, not everyone succeeds at this. Behold, one of the failures, courtesy of Ads of the World again:


Now, by itself, this could be an average 'don't text and drive' campaign. I understand that this is a problem for people who own cars (i.e. not me, most of the time) in that they can't help but send text messages while driving in defiance of all common sense, and this has resulted in a higher number of people getting distracted and running into things, like trees, walls, cars, and other people. The authorities, of course, would prefer if this didn't happen, and in this case, they've decided to show their displeasure by taking a 'poignant' photo of a doll by the side of the road, and slapping a yellow blob on top with a short, pithy slogan.

I could talk about the doll-on-the-road metaphor being so heavy handed and overdone that the impact is probably lost. I could talk about the yellow box ruining the composition of the photo. I could even talk about the textspeak slogan, which they clearly haven't done the research on because it should read 'ur txt cn w8'. I will not write about these things. I will instead point out that, according to Ads of the World, these appeared on the bottom of those plastic tray things in airport security checkpoints around the nation.

There's a couple of things wrong with this. The first and most obvious is that people don't fucking well see the bottom of the tray because their stuff is in it while it's going through security. That narrows down the possible length of time for them to view and be influenced by this ad to begin with. The second problem is that you go through these checkpoints to get onto a flight - as in, to have someone else drive you to your destination, albeit at 30,000 feet and without the option of stopping for donuts. This removes the immediacy of the ad, and it's likely that, with all the usual bullshit of airline travel, you'll have forgotten it completely when you actually get to your car.

Context, c'mon! At least put the fucking ads in the right location! How about outside the parking lots of all the airports instead, so that people can see them when they're about to get into a car and drive somewhere? How about next to the taxis and the drop off area, so people can be reminded of it while they unload whoever is travelling? How about, and this could just blow your mind, ANYWHERE other than the stupid security trays?

I can't believe that stuff like this still happens, to be honest. Either the marketing department are really phoning it in, or there's some exciting new research on how people stuck in security queues are somehow really susceptible to shitty advertising. I'll leave it up to you to decide.

In the meantime, here's a book on airplanes. Oh, how I longed for my own personal Spitfire as a boy!

CJ, over and out

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