As we all know, ads can fail for a number of reasons: bad creative, bad strategy and bad clients.
It takes a special kind of client to understand that the best way to win a customer’s heart is to focus on a single compelling point — not to stuff a commercial full of goodness.
Some clients just have a laundry list of points they want to get into their ad, and they find it impossible to let go.
Even Steve Jobs is capable of having — as Pink Floyd once said — a momentary lapse of reason. I saw it with my own eyes at a meeting when Steve was trying to get the agency to squeeze a few more product benefits into an ad we were about to produce.
Sitting across the table from Steve was Lee Clow, past and current leader of Apple’s agency. Lee crumpled up 4-5 pieces of paper and tossed one to Steve. “This is a good ad,” said Lee, as Steve easily caught it.
Then, all at once, Lee tossed the remaining pile of crumpled balls of paper to Steve and he caught none of them. “That’s a bad ad,” said Lee.
If I’d known that the incident would have become a blog post, I’d have made it a point to remember if Steve then let us have our way. But I do stand behind the principle, as would most every right-thinking marketing person.
Simplicity beats complexity every time.
People tend to remember one thing well said better than a laundry list well recited.
Fortunately, just as I need to illustrate the point, Dell rushes in with a new ad. Or, more accurately, a new laundry list. It goes like this:
If you buy an Inspiron 15R (catchy name, fellas), you’ll get:
(1) More fun, (2) more control, (3) more durability, (4) more sales support, (5) for less, (6) with an Intel Core i3 processor for (7) faster multitasking and (8) McAfee Security Center. It concludes, of course, with the dueling theme lines, “You can tell it’s Dell” and “The power to do more.”
When you compare the Dell-style laundry-list commercial to a more single-minded Apple commercial (like “Mac vs. PC), it’s not hard to understand why Apple is better at winning both customers and advertising awards.