2014-09-13 Andrius Grigorjevas

Digital campaigns: what it takes to fail?

…or I would also call this A quick survival guide to avoiding bullshit. I just picked one particular but special example – one of the most misplaced and deranged digital ads.

Such examples as the one I’m going to give you can provide us with a few laughs but most importantly – they can serve as a great reminder of the all things dreadful we should avoid while planning advertising for the digital medium.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I will walk you through this one. Start at the beginning they say. So here’s how the header looks. So far, ok? Right?

cheese advertising

Right. You can see that there’s loads of illegible stuff on top, but that doesn’t bother you much. You glance at the headline promising that the cheese comes from Lithuania but has matured elsewhere – in Italy. An the slogan also shows you that the second part of the slogan is so important it has been trademarked. So the reader (you) has been just served a promise of the dual nature of the cheese – the visual is evidently going to reveal something.

The first elements to be encountered in the ad serve a promise – a promise that is to be fullfilled by the subsequent parts of the ad, in this case by the visual-contextual elements of the page ad.

THE FULLFILLING VISUAL

No for the best part. You give a quick look to the left. Look – the cheese, it’s over there.

Floating cheese

Look how masterfully it casts a reflection on not so flat landscape. Foreboding cheese. Maybe because it’s made by Lithuanians.

What do you think is wrong with this logic? Well, a few things to start with. We have to reconcile yourselves with the fact that we are looking at a giant piece of cheese and a cheese packaging standing in the middle of Italian landscape. And it’s definitely bigger than your usual skyscraper. If that is not enough, there’s some more. The thing is casting a reflection over the landscape. A reflection and not a shadow, mind you. So naturally we should assume that Italy is frozen. I guess, it usually is.

In visual ads the devil is in the details since we are living in the age of Photoshop and even the most Photoshop-wise uneducated reader can guess when something smells fishy. So it’s best to distinguish a shadow from a reflection and save yourself and the potential buyers some sanity in the process.

REPEAT TILL IT’S TOTALLY ABSURD

We are traveling further down the page and…

cheese ad 03

Oh, no, it’s over here! Crap! That definitely gives me the creeps. Lithuanian cheese that pursues you in Italy. Better watch out next time.

In a proper conversation how many times can you repeat the same thing till you interlocutor starts wondering whether you’re bonkers? Exactly. One is all you need.

It was just standing over there – in the valley. And now it’s right in front of you – threatening you with it’s presence. Ant it’s size somehow isn’t maintained – it was enormous back there and now is regular-human-sized-cheese over here.

THE FULL PICTURE

Now we have a full picture or HOW CHEESE RUINED YOUR ITALIAN HOLIDAY:

full cheese

Yes, the concept is traveling cheese. A personified type of cheese that goes through all the trouble to get to Italy juts to prove it’s maturity. All of this would be pretty pointless if we didn’t try to extract a few lessons from this flop.

LESSONS TO BE LEARNED

A quick recap for future:

1) the elements of the ad that the viewer is going to notice first are the ones that give a specific promise. A promise that’s going to be fulfilled a mere split second later. Make sure there’s an answer waiting.

2) if doing nothing is better than the thing you did, don’t do anything. That most probably is going to be more beneficial for you and the brand in the long run.

3) take care of the little details – things that don’t add up will ruin overall impression even in case when the viewer will not be able to put his/her finger on what’s wrong with the visual.

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SEMIOSEARCH

communication field and its problems never cease to amaze me - the truly brilliant thing is that there are no final answers. I don't understand anything, but I guess nobody does (there just a moderate degree of success in pretending that they do). If you have challenges, questions, topics, themes or projects - contact me and maybe we can crack them together. Andrius