Thursday, May 5, 2011

sometimes, we just get too creative

It's said that too much of a good thing is bad. Moderation is the key. It's what keeps us sober, and keeps us healthy. However, moderation is also helpful in restraining our creative juices when it comes to advertising. Because, sometimes, we just get too creative for our own good.

Case in point is a recent ad for Eastpak created by WE ARE FROM L.A. As Richard Becker, president of Copywrite, Ink., puts it, the product is a copywriter's dream. The backpacks have a great reputation for durability. They a military hook. And, they have a certain retro-chic design that is the fashion du jour. Basically, putting copy together for this product is like a being thrown a fastball right down the center of the plate. Knocking it out of the park is just a matter of swinging the bat.

It could have been a great campaign. "Instead, the newest ad campaign from Eastpak is a great example of how more and more advertisers think they need to draw attention to themselves instead of the products they peddle," says Becker. Rather than focusing on the backpacks, the ad features young adults throwing themselves off of a building in a game of human Tetris.

Creative? Sure. Clever? Maybe. Effective at selling backpacks, or increasing brand awareness? Not even close. "They don't even bother to land on the backpacks that are among the toughest in the industry," Becker remarks.

Creativity is an advertising technique. It is a means to an end, with the end being a consumer response. In the case of the Eastpak ad, the creativity of the ad ceases to be a means to an end, and becomes an end itself. When creativity begins to overshadow the product, the brand loses.

There is no doubt that advertising has become increasingly more difficult in modern times as consumers are bombarded with more and more ads. And, it is more difficult to get their attention as a result. But, the general premise of advertising remains the same: "We sell, or else," as David Ogilvy once put it.

Ads don't have to be boring, but they do have to be effective. They have to have a purpose beyond entertainment. That is, once you have someone's attention, do something with it. Sell to them. After all, a sale is worth more than a laugh.

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