When Advertising Fails – Part 4

I find that as a Marketing student I seem to pay more attention to organisations’ ads and marketing strategies than the lay person would. That’s why I find it especially amazing when even I have poor brand recall from an advertisement I just watched/saw/heard/etc.. What I’m finding more prevalent than ever are ads which do not coincide with the brand identity. That is, you could play an ad and put any old brand logo at the end without changing the ad or its resulting effectiveness.

However, this one confused me:

Another instalment to the When Advertising Fails series is a full page display found in yesterday’s Herald Sun (Wednesday, August 4, 2010).

The ad features a green ruler of some kind twisted into the shape of a question mark, along with the text What is success?. What confused me is that nowhere on the advertisement is any brand mentioned. Couple that with the fact that a full page ad in the Herald Sun could be costing them up to $40,466.58 this ad is on hell of a waste of money!
To answer the question: definitely not your ad!
I realise that I’m going out here on a whim and criticising an ad which may/may not be effective. The one thing I would say is positive is that it caught my attention with it’s simplicity and lack of direct brand promotion. What I’d love to see is a follow up campaign to this ad, building on the surreptitious nature of this one. Maybe they could create some ground swell and have a big reveal at the campaign’s conclusion? Although I don’t think this is very likely.

So for now, I’m going to assume it’s not part of an overall strategy and award it:

Advertisement Effectiveness: 2/10 (for lack of brand identifiability)

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Update (05/08/10): If anyone knows who the agency or brand behind this campaign is, please let me know in the comments section below!

Update (02/09/10): I’ve been following this campaign over the past few weeks and so it turns out, the client is CareerOne. There have been follow up advertisments in newspapers and television commercials. I even saw a banner ad for the campaign on YouTube!
It also turns out that CareerOne is owned by News Limited (known as News Digital Media in the digital space), which explains the ability to publish full page newspaper ads without fear of the budget. I still feel this campaign hasn’t been effective though. This judgement is based on the campaign’s poor execution.

5 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Nobody develops an ad campaign that doesn't actually advertise anything. You're not coming up with any new amazing ideas when you suggest there should be some kind of follow up to this print ad, that's likely the whole point of the campaign. It's call generating interest.
    Newspapers have the appropriate reliable readerships that they can afford to do stuff like this.

  2. Maelin says:

    Jaffrey do you not realise you have just played right into their hands? Now when they print the next ad in next week's paper everyone is going to go “oooh that's what it was about.”. The whole point of campaigns like this is to make people think and talk about the ad and what it might be advertising. I know that and I studied maths. Come on. :P

  3. Anonymous says:

    Exactly, this is textbook marketing. I mean you dedicated a whole post to this right? Far from a failure.

  4. Adam Jaffrey says:

    I'm still considering this a failure until I see a follow up. Yes, it's generated interest… But that interest is absolutely irrelevant and completely useless without a brand associated with it.

    I'll be eagerly awaiting the follow up and remaining execution of this strategy.

  5. Adam Jaffrey says:

    Another side note to my previous comment:

    I don't think the Herald Sun or the brand using this strategy has enough clout to successfully execute this campaign effectively. I haven't heard any other ground swell regarding this ad, which indicates to me that if/when they do produce the follow up that it will be effectively useless because no-one (except myself) paid any attention to their first ad.

    I think for a campaign like this to work, the brand needs to be utilising more interactive channels (not a dying medium like print!) to push the campaign and engage consumers. Currently, there's no hype so the reveal will be harly exciting. Not to mention the fact that because they've chosen a particularly boring channel to begin with, no-one will be paying any attention anyway!

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