Funny thing… I stumbled upon a blog today that critiqued our “Does Your Website Stink” ad. She wrote this…
Deciding what makes for good creative is subjective. Results are all that really matter. But how many ads do you see that make you cringe? For me, this one did. It’s ugly. But what’s important is that people click on it. Following the rules is not top priority, like in David Ogilvy’s days. Click. Or not. And I wouldn’t.
Ogilvy, the author of Confessions of an Advertising Man and Ogilvy on Advertising, would argue that every ad needs a compelling headline; “Does Your Website Stink?” is attention-getting, for sure. He would also require an appropriate graphic. Using the gas mask assumes the reader wouldn’t get it without this literal reference. I’m thinking an outhouse or litter box may have been considered as well. In Mr. O.’s day, a good ad needed a call to action, like the logo and link to the company’s site that I removed. I don’t want to point fingers. Not today, anyway.
To me, the ad says a lot about this web design firm–it makes them look crass by appealing to crass sensibilities–which may have been the goal. If so, they achieved it, and I hope they have thousands of hits today.
At least they didn’t ask, “Does your website suck?” with a picture of a straw.
I tried to respond on her blog, but it wasn’t working, so I sent an email response that said…
I am the owner of the company whose ad you are critiquing. Feel free to put our logo back on the ad as we are not embarrassed or regretful for creating that advertisement. Please feel free to post it as you found it which also had a link back to our website (www.netsolutionsna.com). Whether the ad annoys you, offends you, or hurts your eyes, it made you look, you read it, and you even took the time to Blog about it. I can only hope now that our ad is recognizable enough that people will want to go to our Blog to see if we have a response to what you have written. If that happens, then our ultimate goal of getting a potential customer to our website will have been achieved.
The one aspect of your post that I found insightful was “To me, the ad says a lot about this web design firm–it makes them look crass by appealing to crass sensibilities–which may have been the goal.” Certainly, this is not the goal. We know that in advertising you have only a small window of opportunity to grab someone’s attention. We know that posting our logo does not grab anyone’s attention. But we knew that those 4 little words, for better or for worse, would grab someone’s attention. The clients that we get from these click-throughs are the “low hanging fruit”. They are the people that are already in the market, are feeling some pain because their existing website “doesn’t work” and they are looking to make a change immediately. For someone who is not looking to create a new website or web application in the next few weeks, this ad probably means very little to them. For those people, we need to find another way to get their attention. That is why we offer quarterly website classes that teach you how to build an effective website, how to optimize it, and how to edit and maintain it yourself. By educating our potential customers in our classes, we are putting in motion the law of reciprocity. If we educate them (not sell to them) they are likely to use us in the future if/when they are in the market for what we sell.
Since you are in the marketing/advertising world Teresa, I am sure you can appreciate the need for multiple ads that have different headlines and different uses. The ad that you critiqued is attention grabbing and is meant more as a joke than as a crude or crass comment. We try not to take ourselves too seriously around here and that is the spirit in which that ad was created.
What do you think? Is our ad offensive or crass?