March 2008


I have decided to analyze the mac vs. pc ad campaign. I would like to do this as a wide campaign. All the ads I use will be television commercials that are all done in the same format and with the same characters. Usually only one of these ads plays at a time so each time a new one comes out it’s like a new chapter to the story. I think these ads are very clever and being a mac user, I agree with and can relate to mac’s positioning.

This week I will analyze one of the ads from the campaign in terms of sound and what we hear. I think they all use the same sound method’s so I have just picked the first ad that I want to use.

In each of these commercials Mac and PC’s are represented by human characters and these character’s display characteristics or functions of each product. Since the commercials are for Apple, they show the Mac as a young, hip guy while the PC character is an older man in a suit wearing glasses. Usually the PC has some sort of complaint or problem which he discusses with the Mac, expecting the Mac to agree or have similar problems, which isn’t ever the case.

In this particular commercial, the PC has to go in for surgery so he is wearing a hospital gown and explains how he is nervous because of all the procedures that have to be done on him in order to upgrade to the new Vista software.

This commercial relies almost solely on audio to sell the product. There is no fancy cinematography, elaborate set and they don’t even show the product until the very end of the commercial for a few seconds. The viewer has to tune in and pay attention to what the commercial is saying in order to be persuaded by the commercial.

I think it’s really smart that Apple eliminated everything but the actors and the audio, it fits right in with their idea of simplicity and cleanliness and it leaves nothing for the viewer to be distracted by.

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Last week I looked at print ad with no body copy so this week I thought it would only be appropriate to look at an ad that is only body copy and no image. I noticed this week in the discussion that a lot of people brought up Ogilvy’s question: “Nobody reads body copy. True or false?” Personally, I think it depends on the ad. Sometimes people read it and sometimes people don’t and that’s about as far I got. Ultimately it comes down to the advertising agency, if they can make an interesting, eye-catching, irresistibly juicy ad, people will read body copy whether they want to or not.

Ogilvy’s opinion on housewives reading body copy for a food ad but not for a cigar ad is not completely untrue but very dated. My opinion is that most people don’t read it, but then I came across this wonderfully clever Penguin ad. Since Penguin is a publishing company I will assume that a potential customer is one who enjoys reading and would therefore greatly appreciate this little story of success. On the other hand, I am not a potential customer for Penguin and I still read, and enjoyed, reading the ad.

The ad has been set up to look like the first page from a book chapter and these are the only visual supports the reader gets. I think this is a perfect approach for Penguin’s target audience, but what really makes this ad work is the body copy itself.

penguin success

This ad is a perfect example for Oglivy’s suggestion to write copy in the form of a story, although I think Penguin takes a contemporary spin on this idea. Their tag line and logo are small and placed at the bottom of the ad. This means that the only way the reader will know what the ad is about is if they actually read through the ad and their eyes make it down to the bottom of the page. Many readers might get annoyed and move on before finding out what the ad is about but I also see this as a weeding out tactic. If the reader can’t finish the body copy, they probably aren’t interested in the product anyway. This has potential to hurt Penguin’s future customers, but it might not.

The actual story is so cleverly written that it makes me laugh while I am reading, and I really enjoy laughing.

I am going to switch gears a little bit this week and look at print ads as I begin my research and start brain storming for my own ad project.

Oglivy makes some valid points in his chapter on print ads but I have to admit that I don’t agree with his theory on long ad copy. In the past thirty years our society has changed into a fast-paced, visual culture. Consumers don’t want to wait for anything, we have become a society of instant gratification.

This is evident in all aspects of our culture, from Wal-mart super stores where a customer can get their oil changed, drop their child off for an eye exam, buy groceries, clothes, and home furnishings, and then eat lunch, all under the same roof. My point is that our time has become extremely valuable and consumers aren’t willing to waste it on reading ad copy.

When I am flipping through a magazine I stop to look at the ads with short, catchy headlines and stimulating visuals. If I don’t get it in those first 3 seconds, the page gets flipped. This is the harsh reality that ads face today. On the flip side, if a racy headline and attractive visual does get my attention, I will read on for at least a short paragraph.

This ad for a trial lawyer’s office is a perfect example for my argument. Two words, a clear visual and the name of the business is all they need to get their point across perfectly. All of the elements of the ad work in harmony so the viewer exerts the minimum amount of brain power to understand what they are about. On top of that it makes me laugh!

washis.jpg

The two words, “was his” on the license plate of the car let the reader know that now it’s hers, indicating that “she” didn’t have the car before, but now she does. The name of the business at the bottom of the ad clarifies that “she” won the car in a divorce settlement, because the business is a trial lawyers office.

This shows the reader the lawyers success, because “she” got the car, and illustrates their priorities to potential clients.

The only problem I see in the ad is by using the phrase “was his” they are only targeting women. Women will identify this phrase as a victory for them, but men might (I don’t really know this but I am assuming…) see this as something negative for them.

A way to fix this might be to put out another ad in the same magazine, or in another magazine that targets men by giving them a victory.

Ogilvy has very specific requirements for a good headline and I don’t think this ad falls meets any of his requirements, yet it still works. It doesn’t promise the reader a benefit, contain news and it doesn’t really offer helpful information, yet it works. It works because it makes reference to current issues that our society understands. According to www.divorcerate.com

50% of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce and in 1997 the divorce rate in Canada was 47%. That means half the population that gets married goes through a divorce. This makes it very likely that any given reader who comes across this ad will have some type of experience with divorce, whether they have gone through it or a family member, friend, or acquaintance has gone through it, there will be some connection.

As long as ads are simple and relatively universal in subject matter, there’s a good chance they have a shot at success.

This week I would like to use Donald Gunn’s “12 Kinds of Ads” theory to analyze this Clearasil commercial. It seems like lately the ninth format, which uses a “symbol, analogy, or exaggerated graphic” to demonstrate a benefit of a product, is being used a lot. These commercials show specific instances where using their product will give them certain benefits. In the case of this Clearasil commercial the college student gains confidence, and in his case maybe too much confidence, because he uses a Clearasil product. 

In this commercial a college boy tries to help a professor (who doesn’t really seem to be in need) feel more comfortable teaching class by announcing that the professor can picture the boy naked. The boy then turns to the girl next to him and tells her that she can also picture him naked. The narrator then comes in to show the product and briefly describes it. The next scene, which is my favorite in the commercial, cuts to the boy checking himself in the mirror and growling at himself in a “sexy” way. 

While this is obviously an exaggeration of the benefits of the product, I think it does a good job at hyping up the product for the consumer.  In this case the viewer doesn’t see the actual work of the product but they see the aftermath of using the product. Another option for Clearasil could have been to show a shy boy with acne and then show him using the product and watching his transformation into a clear-faced, slightly over-confident guy. Cutting out the whole before stage might take away from the viewer relating to the guy in the commercial, taking out the emotion that was used in the Keystone Light commercial I talked about the other week.

This commercial reminds me of the Tag or Axe body spray or body wash commercials that show these guys being attacked by their date’s moms when they go to pick them up and by other random people because they are wearing the body spray. Then a warning sign comes on screen explaining what could happen when this product is used. These commercials, like the Clearasil one, are obviously over the top and not meant to be taken literally but at the same time I think it intrigues the viewer to find out just how over the top they are. They might even start to think these things have a possibility of happening from using the product.