Saturday, September 26, 2009

Think Different.

Remember those old Apple ads, back in the ’90s, that encouraged us to “Think Different”? I certainly don’t mean to put the cart before the horse, but I’m wondering if I took that counsel a bit too much to heart, because advertising just doesn’t seem to work on me these days. Consider the following, all three of which happened in the last hour.

As I was driving down the road with my family, I saw an ad for a car. I don’t have the slightest clue what kind of car it was (which says something about the overall effectiveness of the ad), but the tag line was: “Hate Sitting In Traffic Even More.” I was like, “Okay… so you’re saying that if I buy this car, the unenjoyable parts of my life will become even less enjoyable? Why wouldn’t I just save a couple Chases and use the car I already have?”

Anna, it must be said, understood the ad as I can only assume it was intended: “This car is such a pleasure to drive, sitting in traffic will be horrible by comparison.” More power to her, but do you really think this is obvious from the text? (That’s an honest question, by the way. Feel free to comment!)

A few minutes later, we passed another billboard: this one for the Verizon Wireless store. The ad described the store—which I’ve seen, many times—as being “next to Walmart / behind Burger King,” which confused the snot out of me. Check out this aerial view of the two stores:

As you can plainly see (or so I thought), Verizon Wireless is across the street from Burger King, not behind it. However, Anna’s argument was that Burger King is actually on the street at the top of this picture (above Burger King), so the entrance and exit are actually in back. (Of course, the United States Postal Service doesn’t agree—BK’s address is the road that runs across the middle of this photo—but I guess nobody asked them.) So is the billboard correct? What do you think?

Let’s finish up, then, with our third and final ad of the day. When we arrived home, there was a computing catalog in the mailbox that was quite prominently advertising Microsoft Windows 7. When I opened up the catalog, the only mention of it was a tiny blurb (on page 7, ironically enough) that highlighted three main features of the new system. The top feature: “Windows XP productivity allows you to run programs in Windows XP Mode.”

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Windows XP the version that Microsoft is still trying to get everyone to upgrade from? (Yes, I know there’s a few people that actually bought Vista, but I’m guessing they’re not going to need their arms twisted to upgrade.) So if I’m a Windows XP user, why would I even consider dropping $300 on a system whose most important feature is its ability to act just like the one I already own?

How about you, dear readers? Am I right? wrong? just plain crazy? What do you think of these ads (or any others you might care to mention)?


  1. I think the variety of ads that you would see while driving are practically non-existent around here, at least in the areas where I drive (it seems billboards and such must be illegal).

    I love the Windows 7 ad. I also like their recent (and quite feeble, might I add) attempts to counteract the Mac ads on TV. The other day in fact, I saw one with a little Asian girl that I'd guess to be not much older than 5 years old using a PC to put together a flyer to send to her friends in which she'd pasted all kinds of positive comments Windows 7 had received. I just think there's a discrepency between their intended message and the actual communicated message.

    As for other ads, I think people just don't think hard enough about how ads will be perceived before they print them; and then it's too late.

  2. I’ve seen those ads with the little girl. I think my favorite part is that when she gets to her little slide show, the accompanying music is The Final Countdown! I seriously started laughing. Could they possibly have picked something more inherently associated with “Hey, watch this! Something is about to go horribly wrong, mostly because I’m incompetent!”? ^_^

    (Yes, I know that not everybody knows about Arrested Development, but geeks do, and if Microsoft should have learned anything from the Vista debacle, it’s that an operating system’s target audience consists of two groups: 1. geeks; 2. those that listen to geeks.) ;-)