"Why are you taking a picture of that billboard?" asked my carpool passenger, after I had swerved into a 7-11 parking lot and broke out the old digital camera.
"Because I hate it so much! I'm going to write about it," I told her.
"You aren't afraid to have opinions about things, are you?" she observed.
Well, perhaps not. But I sure do hate that billboard. Maybe I can make you hate it, too!
Hate Factor #1: Rewards. It offers me a "reward," and yet I do not recall having done anything of merit. Long-suffering readers may recall an earlier rant on this point, but hey! Advertisers! There is no quicker way to piss me off than to offer me "rewards," short of "tousling my hair" and calling me a "good little boy." Or perhaps, offering me a "dog biscuit." You are in a position to humbly thank your customers, but not to reward them, and you forget this at your peril. Offer a good service at a fair price, and customers might reward you with their business.
Hate Factor #2: The Happy Person. In the last five years, I've noticed a pernicious increase in the number of ads that feature a picture of a happy person, and that's all. Just a happy person. True, these advertisements are usually aimed at selling intangibles, such as insurance, banking, or education, but the fact that it was a challenging assignment should not excuse a total failure of imagination at the ad agency. The person is sitting there looking happily at the camera because, what, health insurance makes one happy? What?
My credit union -- formerly operating under the cool historical name of "Portland Teachers' Credit Union" but now, in a salute to committee-think, under some bland, generic name that I have never been able to remember -- indulges in some happy-people advertising, but they also demonstrate how to avoid the Hate Factor. They'll show happy people... in a new car! painting their house! Enjoying a vacation! In other words, people enjoying the things they were presumably able to obtain through the credit union's services. This makes all the difference, because it means they are selling services, as opposed to just the mood of happiness.
Hate Factor #3: The Insanely Happy Person. Can you imagine responding like the woman in the billboard to the availability of a checking account with favorable terms? Can you imagine that there is a single person, anywhere on the planet, who would respond in such a way to any checking account, ever? This woman's reaction would be appropriate to a marriage proposal, perhaps, or news of a grandchild on the way, or maybe a big lottery win, or news of a major promotion. But a checking account? No. Not even close. And for the marketer to assume that the part of my brain that reads emotions is so poorly wired that I would find it plausible is kind of offensive.
But I Really Like This Flyer
...from the cult period-fixture merchants Rejuvenation here in the City of Roses.
Cracks me up.