September 13, 2006, 11:04 am
How Not to Sell Something
By Lisa Agustin
While reading the Sunday paper, I came across this advertisement for McCormick spices. While I don’t have a background in advertising, my general understanding is that ads should:
- Tell you what the product/service is;
- Say why you need the product/service;
- If appropriate, convince you that this product/service is better than the competition;
- Inspire you to act (buy the product/service or do something else).
The other thing I assume is that, in most instances, all of the above should be accomplished in a relatively short amount of time (after all, this isn’t a PowerPoint presentation).
After my initial read, it was clear the ad was for McCormick Spices and involved figuring out the age of your spices. Other than that, the rest of it had me confused:
- The ad has two spice containers, and the one on the left is clearly the McCormick brand. My first thought: Is the bottle on the right from a competitor (turned around to hide the name)?
- But further reading (including looking at the teeny writing on the bottle) indicates that both containers are from McCormick and both are too old. Now what?
- Is black pepper in a tin older? Or is the age of black pepper impossible to determine?
The text at the bottom clears things up only slightly: it asks me the question that should have been at the top of the ad. But then I’m instructed to visit the URL to calculate the age of my spices (assuming I even have a computer).
Two obvious points that may have improved the message:
- Why not just come out and say what the web campaign suggests (yes, I gave in): For the Freshest Flavor, TOSS (Toss Old Spices Seasonally)? This is much clearer than this print ad.
- Why isn’t there a picture of the bottle that I should be buying?
The whole experience made me think: Isn’t there an easier way to explain this concept and get me to buy new spices?
Lisa, You are so right on about this! Also, who the heck is so bored they have time to calculate the age of their spices online? That is so bizarre!!
I found this inspirational and funny. Thanks!
Posted by Eliot on September 13, 2006 at 12:28 pm