Thursday, June 28, 2012

Less Is ALWAYS More

This goes out to everyone in advertising, marketing, and copywriting: if you can remove a word, do it. If you can remove a sentence, even better. A whole paragraph? You're work sucked to begin with, start over.

I specifically mention copywriters because they so frequently load advertisments and marketing materials up with words. I can scarcely describe how stupid that is. Words should be reduced to an absolute minimum. The art of copywriting manifests in carefully choosing impactful words that can have many layers of meaning. The art of copywriting does not manifest in writing a mini Wikipedia entry for your product.

Perhaps this predilection is because copywriters think that they need to produce LOTS of words to justify their paycheck. No. Anyone can produce tons of words. Good copywriters can produce almost none.

You can see the effects of this problem in companies that seem desperate to have slogans, and tag lines, and mottos, and other such crap. I mocked Panasonic's "Ideas For Life" slogan in an earlier post. What the hell does that even mean? It communicates nothing. Panasonic doesn't sell ideas. It sells freaking televisions.

Or Subaru: they have two slogans. They have "Confidence In Motion," which is matched in blandness only by LG's "Life's Good" slogan. They also have "Love... It's what makes a Subaru, a Subaru." That's not bland, but it's long, ridiculous, and doesn't have anything to do with the Subaru brand. They attach this formless slogan that could apply to any company on Earth to commercials featuring... everything. Hipsters getting married, old people letting young people drive, assholes wandering around the woods to stare in dumbstruck awe at deer or trees or waterfalls or something.

There is no surprise that the majority of advertisements are forgotten the instant that they go off the air. There is nothing about the average ad that couldn't apply to any product. There are no unique elements. There is nothing to remember.

Go watch an average ad for a dish detergent. Replace that detergent with anything that is used for around the house. The commercial is identical. There is nothing bold or outstanding about any of the commercials. It's the same damned woman doing the same damned dance around the same damned house. Marketers seem to want to compensate for this complete lack of invention by just slapping on more marketing, more words.

Everything about a marketing presense should have as few words as possible. It can have lots of other things, though: images, sounds, concepts; these are all fine. Your marketing can be awash in these. It must still be focused, and your message must be tightly, finely tuned, and explicitly known and understood, but non-verbal impressions are a great way to draw people into the emotions of an ad.

Again, I look to Panasonic. "Ideas For Life" is a formless tangle of words that mean nothing. They communicate nothing about Panasonic, its products, or what the company actually does. It is awful. They need to get rid of it. But the images in their recent Eluga ad were fantastic. If only they had used nothing but those images, the ad may have had an impression. Instead, the ending communicates nothing more than corporate blah.

Considering the speed with which great advertisements rise to fame, one would assume that more ads would try to hew closely to this ideal. One would expect everyone to try to be the next Old Spice Guy or Apple 1984. But no. Instead they go in the opposite direction. They add layer upon layer of marketing, branding, and advertising until the core message is lost. They reduce the product to an inconsequentiality. They kill the product. It's no wonder that most people don't care about the products that they buy and instead rely on price as the primary determinant for purchasing.

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