The Truth About Advertising #1: Coca-Cola Wannabes

By Angelika Ilina

I love looking at ads in magazines and newspapers. It’s one of the funnest ways to see which companies are wasting their marketing dollars by placing bad ads and which ones are doing a good job. The ones that are doing a good job typically will have their ads running for a long time because they are effective in generating leads.

My all-time favorite bad ads are the ones where a particular company puts itself into the same category as, say, Coca-Cola, an instantly recognizable brand name. The marketing folks at this company surely must think that they’ve got a household brand name, but, alas, they don’t.

Mistake #1: Well, for starters, the company’s name (or sometimes only the logo without the spelled out company’s name!) is the most prominent, eye-catching element. Timberline? Who is that?! And if you aren’t like me, actually paying attention to what’s in the ad for fun’s sake, I doubt you’ll notice the tiny, tiny text somewhere in the ad that actually may say what the company is or does. My bet is you’ll turn the page over in no time.

An example from the Boulder Daily Camera:
An ad by Timberline

Timberline ad in the Boulder Daily Camera

Mistake #2: Simply, no benefit statement. What’s the offer? Why should I shop at Timberline? Who are they? What’s good about them? What makes them better than the competition? Am I even their target market? Bottom line, why should I care?

There are many more mistakes; these are just the very obvious ones. And those are the easy ones! Nevertheless, I see this over and over, big and small companies alike. And then, inevitably, advertising gets a bad rap: it doesn’t work, it’s too expensive, it doesn’t increase the sales. Of course, bad advertising doesn’t!

In this case, could it be because certain marketing folks and business owners tend to equate branding to marketing?


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