Wednesday, March 13, 2013


by Roger Pe

Tough question that is often asked but easy to do if you know how.

Who doesn’t want an effective ad?

Marketers will do anything to achieve their sales target. Ad agencies will do their darndest to be results-oriented, and that means, singing the same song. When targets are not met, threats of being fired hang like a sword of Damocles over their heads.

In trying to make their ads more effective, some clients go overboard, even ‘teaching’ ad agencies to do their jobs.

That’s where trouble begins, and more often than not, the results are disastrous.

There are many stories about clients and ad agencies cancelling each other out because of creative standoffs.

There are also stories about happy endings because parties have mutual respect, practice professional ethics, continuously nourish harmonious working relationships in order to be beneficial to each other.

Recent changes in the advertising landscape have given a new definition to the word “effective” however.

“Effective” now means bombarding each ad with hard sell messages, the heavier product freights are, the more they think the ad would sell.

The word also dictates that creators of ads use big price bubbles to catch attention.

Sadly, it is not the case. The ad becomes cluttered, full of dizzying elements, suffocated by words and images that defy balance.

Eager to convince their target, the focus dissipates. With too many things filling up the ad from top to bottom, it is bound to produce neither well-intended goals.

A cluttered ad, as in a print ad for example, has a long lead-in (introductory statement or premise), kilometric headline and equally long subhead (qualifier statement that reinforces the headline).

Add a voluminous body copy, aimed at over explaining, it is now ready to vomit. Not to mention the blurbs, violators and tagline, take cover and duck, it may explode any minute.

An overzealous marketing team, uncontrolled and powerful, can shape the destiny of your ad it thinks would be effective. A smorgasbord of photos and other extraneous elements gone berserk with no design sense, it will begin to look like a building - being erected without an architect.

Already choked like a goose prized for its foie gras, believe your advertising professor in college, it’ll have a bigger chance of being snubbed by your intended target.

Know the difference, doing a print ad is not doing a brochure material. It’s as basic as that.

According to adman Lance Lanslow, a cluttered ad does not work. “It is a sign of ego”. One can list all the great things he feels are important about his product on a piece of layout, “but that is an ad for him and not for the consumers. It will not likely convey the correct communication to them,” he says.

A cluttered ad can be likened to a noisy, cantankerous person, cacophonic and annoying an already bored audience.

There is nothing wrong with using hard sell messages. Crafted beautifully and creatively with wit, they can be endearing and become a potent weapon for convincing consumers to make them buy.

But when they fill every single available white space of a newspaper or magazine, every second of a radio plug or make a billboard look like a presentation deck, they can become horrific and a nuisance.

Studies have shown that clutter in ads reduces effectiveness, insults the viewer and degrades brands. Is the consumer too dumb he doesn’t get it?

According to a survey made by Burst Media in the US, nearly 30% will refuse to read a cluttered ad and immediately turn to the next page of a newspaper if they see one.

It’s also true in digital media. Just as there are well-produced ads, there are also those that you don’t even bother to look at when you’re browsing.

The same number of respondents said they will leave a website if they perceive it to be cluttered with ads. More than 75% of those who remain on cluttered sites will also pay less attention to the ads unless they are entertaining and make sense.

It is not hard to spot a cluttered ad

“We see ads on newspapers everyday, saying too many things they compete with the news themselves,” says a marketing director known for his top-selling brands.

Some even camouflage a newspaper’s persona just to get attention. Some even make it appear that it is a section of a favorite broadsheet.

He advises admakers to sound real when they do an ad. “Be inventive, don’t write an ad like you lifted the messages straight out of strategy document of a manufacturer,” he says.

The Burst Media survey reveals further:

“Content clutter hurts the reputation of parties that produce them. The way an ad is produced has an impact on consumers’ perceptions of an advertiser’s products and services.”

Half of all respondents surveyed had less favorable opinion of advertisers that produced cluttered advertising and placed them on cluttered media.

“A cluttered ad is a waste of client’s money. Take a closer look and sweep unnecessary communication debris off them,” a 4A’s director says.

Why do cluttered, ineffective ads happen?

When ads become cluttered, the natural tendency of people is veer away from them. It’s like seeing a room in disarray you wouldn’t want to linger there a bit. When people ignore your ad, it becomes ineffective right from the very start.

There are several factors that drive ad makers to do a cluttered ad:

A ‘yes sir, yes ma’m team with a take-the-money-and-run attitude, a second-guessing group that has not fully digested and crystallized the advertising task, creative wanabes who want to stamp their mark on the campaign, among others.

“Some ads are approved by brand owners’ wives, salesmen, kids, even secretaries. Some of them are practically written by them. Have you receive a brief that says: “Do anything as long as it is funny,” woes a copywriter.

Advertising book author Selena McIntyre, says: “Ads are very expensive. It’s worth paying a professional ad agency with a great creative team to avoid waste of money.

Here are a few tips on how to make your ads rise above the clutter:

1. Be single-minded. De-clutter and focus on one proposition (key message). Avoid repetitive, meaningless phrases that make you redundant

2. Execute your message in an unexpected manner. Craftmanship is key. Be a wordsmith. Catchy lines make ads memorable

3. There are no hard and fast rules in using short or long copy to explainyour product. As long as you give it a kickass art direction, it will fly.

4. Use the power of imagery to deliver your message. Make it high definition if possible. Remember, a great picture speaks a thousand words

5. Don’t beat around the bush. Focus on what makes you distinct from other similar products and say why. Give compelling reasons why consumers would believe you.

6. Be original. Don’t be a clone. Don’t parrot what competition is already doing.

7. Don’t over-explain that you sound like a broken record.

8. Be definitive on who you are talking to. Don’t talk down that you may offend. Talk real based
on consumer insights.

9. Plan weeks ahead and know when and where your targets are most receptive to your ad campaign.

10.Make sure all things mentioned above take effect today and the rest will follow.

Lastly, always remember that clean, uncluttered creativity is the new effectivity.