Was leafing through a very packed Fortune magazine over the weekend, and two ads caught my eye...for two very different reasons.
The first, from The UPS Store, was printed upside down. While following the Conventional Wisdom of Pow! by being out of context, ads such as these usually disappoint; they're most often dopey, irrelevant gimmicks, kinda like those college handbills that screamed "SEX!" and then explained "Now That I Have Your Attention..."
But not this baby. The photo of a despondent, head-in-hands sales guy was bolstered by the headline:
Think this upside-down page is surprising?
Imagine finding one in your presentation.
Brilliant use of Surprise...and of that sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs that we've all had to deal with at one time or another. A real winner.
The other one promotes one of my fave bizbooks of last year, Blue Ocean Strategy. The ad inn question (and indeed, in question it is) is simple, conservative, to-the-point...well, what do you expect from Harvard Business School Press?
But here's the problem. You figure that if one has enough cash to buy a full-page ad in Fortune, one would spend the extra couple of bucks and add a hue or two...particularly if the key word in the book's title is
B L U E !!!
I tested 10 people at Airborne, asked them the simple question: "What's wrong with this ad?" All 10 said the same thing, and pointed out the glaring technicolor disconnect.
But let's take this one step further. To take advantage of the power of Surprise, to REALLY stand out, to REALLY make a mark, and to REALLY (well, as the book suggests) "see your business from a new perspective," the Harvard folks should've printed the ad in
RED! GREEN! VIOLET! GOLDENROD!
HOT PINK! TURQUOISE! ORANGE!
...ANYTHING but in boring black and white.
(I wish the above was my idea, but to be frank, I saw it done over a decade ago by the Labatt Brewery, who bought a full-page ad for its powerhouse Labatt Blue beer in the programme book for the Just For Laughs Festival, and ballsingly re-designed their bottle and label to read Labatt Red. Red, get it? Har har. But believe me, it was shocking, effective and generated tons o' word of mouth.)
It seems awkward to expound high-flying concepts like "leave your competitors behind" and "change your world" when you limit your rainbow to greyscale. Open your eyes, folks.
And now, back to the articles...