Monthly Archives: November 2017

How NOT to do a full page press ad

This is a real jaw-dropper. Back page of The Telegraph, full page broadsheet press ad. And it’s a brilliant case study of everything you should never do in a press ad. Look at the picture and see if you can guess what it’s advertising.

  1. The headline: it’s on its side. Why? Why make it hard to read. Can you think of any reason why it’s on its side? (I’ll bet you a million quid the team responsible said “It’s more eye-catching because it’s unusual”. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.)
  2. The headline: it doesn’t say anything of interest to me. (Or anyone else.) What is says is this: In 1925 the revolution nearly wasn’t televised. I have no idea what this is about. I have no idea who this ad is for, or why I should read it. (It’s a teaser headline, everyone will be intrigued!”)
  3. The headline: it’s in capital letters. This makes it hard to read. But as it’s also on its side this is hardly the worst sin of incompetence on display here.
  4. The eye-catching picture: oh. There isn’t one. Why not?
  5. The logo: never mind, all of the above, I’ll whizz to the bottom right and look for the logo so I can spend a split second finding out what the brand is. Oh. There isn’t one.
  6. The body copy: it’s presented in a stupid fan layout. Why?
  7. The body copy: it’s printed in rainbow colours making it really hard to read. Why?
  8. The body copy: it’s about the history of television. And how John Logie Baird’s invention wasn’t taken seriously. Oh OK, so that’s the revolution mentioned in the headline. Why are you telling me this? What is this ad about? I still have no idea what it’s selling me. (And let’s face it, I’m the only person reading this crap, and that’s because I write this blog.)
  9. The body copy: line 18, yes, line 18. It says “Next time you’re enjoying watching people watch television…”  (what???? Is this is a reference to Gogglebox? Why? Where has this come from?) “…think about the small revolution  happening the other side of the socket: the smart meter.” So finally, they get to tell us what this pitiful mess is about. Smart meters. WTF?
  10. The body copy: apparently smart meters are the ‘”clever new device that’s helping homes across the country see how much their energy is costing”. Blimey, that’s a little user benefit creeping in there! It only too til line 20 to get there. And that’s it. That’s all we’re told. No more benefits. No more reasons to buy or enquire. No clue as to how or where we might get one.
  11. The body copy: the last line is that favourite of utterly incompetent copywriters: the lame attempt at a joke. I think. “Perhaps watching your smart meter might become as mainstream as watching Scandinavian crime dramas.” Really? I mean REALLY????
  12. There is a tiny URL tucked at the end of the copy. Same size, same typeface, same rainbow colours.

I find this ad genuinely shocking. Smart meters are useful, they have a clear benefit to the user. They are a physical thing so you can show a picture of them. Lots of people will want to know how they can save money, and how much, by installing them. But this ad fails on, literally, every level. Everyone involved with it should be deeply, deeply ashamed and the client should fire the agency immediately. Except the client signed it off too.

Is your brand issue really a company structure issue?

More often than we’d like to think, what is described as a problem with a brand is actually a problem with a company’s structure. I found myself in a meeting last week where this was particularly evident to everyone but, it seemed, the company concerned.

The client (a large financial services brand who shall remain nameless) was telling us that we need to look at the brand’s messaging and its imagery and tone of voice — the usual stuff — as their website doesn’t seem to be delivering the growth they’d expect.

All the latest fashionable stuff is trotted out: how important storytelling is. How we need to revisit the brand’s message house. How we need to workshop some new positioning statements and ensure we have a firm grasp on the customer personas we’re dealing with.

Absolutely nothing wrong with doing all of the above from time to time, if necessary. But the real issue in this instance (as it often is) was nothing to do with “the brand” per se. It was entirely an issue of how the company structured its product offering.

Put simply, the company was offering two main types of financial service: protection (ie insurance), and pensions (ie savings/investments). Each had their own sales and management team. Each had their own revenue and profit targets. They even had separate buildings in different parts of town.

As a consequence of this internal structure, each had, effectively, their own website with just a shared initial homepage. Plus, each had their own advertising campaign with markedly different imagery and messaging.

In other words, each product area was pretty much a separate brand.

So the customer would, to all intents and purposes, be dealing with two separate entities. She couldn’t get a statement that showed her protection and pension products on a single document. The documents she did receive were entirely different in appearance and structure. She couldn’t manage her two products through a single online portal. She had to log in separately to two different dashboards. She received no cross-sell benefits or discounts. In short, as far as the company was concerned she was essentially two different people.

From a company perspective, this can make perfect sense. Often the structure comes about through mergers and acquisitions. A company buys another company’s insurance ‘book’ or sells off its pension business. The new bit is just bolted on to the old bit and remains a separate entity in everything but name. Why change anything other than the product’s name and logo?

Because it’s unbelievably frustrating and confusing for the customer, that’s why. And that’s bad for business.

You arrive at the website expecting a clear UX journey. You want to feel like you’re a loved and appreciated customer of The Brand. You don’t give a monkey’s that the company behind the website is operating out of two separate offices in different parts of the company and that the management of one bit rarely talks to the management of the other bit.

What you care about is being able to look after your finances simply and confidently. You don’t want to have two different logins and two completely different website journeys. You couldn’t care less that each brand has a slightly different version of the logo and a different ad campaign.

In your mind, the brand is a single entity and you want it to help you manage your financial affairs as best it can. If it’s not delivering this, you think bad things about the brand. Perhaps you think about moving to competitors who get it right?

My point is this: we must always remember that The Brand is the impression of your company/product/service that exists in YOUR CUSTOMERS’ MINDS. It’s not a logo, it’s not a TOV, it’s not your values or mission statement.

If your customers think your website is clunky and confusing, your service is sloppy, your communications unnecessarily complex and wasteful, it doesn’t matter that your advertising is sensational, your logo is beautiful and your TOV is warm and witty. Your brand is what your customers feel about you, not what you tell them they ought to feel.

Nobody’s saying it’s easy to change a company’s structure to reflect what your customer needs, it isn’t. It’s complex and expensive. It puts massive numbers of noses out of joint and, of course, can even result in redundancies. So it’s entirely understandable when the main board refuses to even consider it.

But if you genuinely believe all those customer-centric promises in your latest brand values document, you need to do it.