Advertising: Don’t Leave Your Audience Guessing

I was watching TV with my wife the other night when I saw a commercial that, to me, epitomizes what is wrong with so much advertising.

The commercial starts out with a guy tooling around in his garage. He’s working on something, but you’re not sure what it is. At first, I thought I was watching something about home improvements – a Craftsman, or maybe Sears, commercial.

A third of the way in, the scene switches. Now the guy is driving down the road in a truck. I’m not sure what he’s built – an electric wheel chair, or maybe a spiffy weather measuring device – but he’s bringing it somewhere. Off to the beach he goes, the tailgate sporting CHEVROLET is big white letters. Huh. Maybe this is a Chevy commercial, I thought.

So half-way into this minute-long commercial you get near the point. The wheel chair weather station rolls down onto the beach and we find out it’s a sophisticated Frisbee launcher.

I’m thoroughly confused at this point. What is this commercial about!?!

The only vocal in the commercial: “I dream of being my dog’s best friend. What’s your dream?”

I still don’t know why I’m watching this. Who is speaking to me and what do they want me to do?

Three seconds from the end, the logo for the Washington State Lottery graces the screen, followed by the question: “Whose world could you change?”

This is a well-made commercial – nice music, nice video. If I were grading it on cinematography, I might say “cool.” It’s a commercial, though, and its purpose is to communicate with me, the audience. I spent 90% of this commercial trying to figure out who was talking to me. That doesn’t make for a very positive audience reaction.

If you’re making a commercial, or placing an advertisement, don’t make people guess about the most important things:

(1) who is speaking to me?

(2) what are they talking about?

Sears and GM should thank Washington’s Lottery for the lovely marketing.

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