So I’m waiting to turn left off a side street on to a major roadway and I get to watch traffic whiz by. Lots of traffic. Including a bus with a sign for Verizon Wireless (although that was a bit difficult to determine from a distance) promoting the new Droid phone. The message is “A Bare Knuckled Bucket of Does.” Did a double-take. My eyes actually saw the word “Does” first and I immediately thought of female deer. What? Then I had to mentally scroll back to their “Droid Does” ad campaign and realized that it was a play on words to show that the phone does a whole bunch of things. Advertising blunder alert!
Testing Advertising Methods by copywriting legend John Caples, he cautions about using clever copy since “… in its attempt to be smart, may turn out to be obscure and fail to attract readers.” Though unlikely with as frequent as they’re appearing these days, there is the chance that someone has not seen the Droid commercials and wouldn’t make the connection.
But that may have been the point. Only the “in” crowd would get the connection. If you can exclude the ignorant from your circle, it gives the product an elitist appeal. However, for an almost throwaway item that will quickly be replaced by the next big thing, isn’t the point to get as many sales as possible?
Again referring to Caples, the most important part of any advertisement is the headline and it should appeal to the reader’s self-interest for maximum effect. In the “Does” headline, it suggests that the Droid phone does a bucket-full of things. To today’s multi-taskers, that’s appealing. Yet I think this ad focuses on what the phone does, but not what it does for the customer. It might have been more effective to focus on a specific benefit such as “Droid Does Your Dinner Reservations” (if that’s a feature offered).
Which brings up another point. To say something does everything (or lots and lots of things) makes it difficult for readers to distinguish if the product is for them. Focusing on a specific benefit actually can help make more sales because it taps into a specific need.
One of the other issues encountered here was that this was, essentially, a billboard on a moving object. Billboards whizzing by in traffic have precious few seconds to grab attention and call readers to action (I wrote a whole article on this issue. The link is below). Think of the sales opportunities that whizzed by because it takes readers too long to figure out what a clever advertising message means. That’s definitely not clever.
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