By Mark Dolliver
Subtlety has its place in life. Advertising just happens not to be that place. In getting people to read an ad’s body copy once they’ve read its headline, you could hardly adopt a more obvious ploy than a red line leading from the latter toward the former. But it works, particularly in tandem with the teaser that’s generated by circling a few letters in the Saturn motto. The copy promptly pays off on Saturn’s promise of difference. ‘In case of accidents, every Saturn comes complete with a steel safety cage, front and rear crumple zones, and dual airbags.’ Plenty of car ads talk about safety features, of course, but they seldom dare to present those features explicitly in a context that would make them meaningful: i.e., the possibility you might have an accident. Thus, there’s an abstractness in the typical ad’s mention of airbags and crumple zones–a weakness that Saturn’s ad avoids. By being more forthright, Saturn adds to its aura as a car company that treats its customers as rational adults.
AGENCY: Hal Riney & Partners, San Francisco
CLIENT: GM’s Saturn Corp., Spring Hill, Tenn.
MEDIUM: consumer print
CREATIVE DIRECTORS: Steve Sweitzer, Dave O’Hare
ART DIRECTOR: Mark Bell
COPYWRITER: Doug James
PHOTOGRAPHERS: Jeff Nadler, Jock McDonald
The translation, for those of you whose Norwegian is rusty: ‘It is easy to make the new Audi A6 feel like a car with rear-wheel drive.’ If you can’t say anything nice about rival brands, it’s wise to use a light touch in bad-mouthing them. Your potential customer may own a different make, and he won’t appreciate being told he’s a fool for having bought it. This ad neatly plants the idea there’s something wrong with rear-wheel-drive cars. In offering a plausible take on automotive technology–not simply a boast about Audi–it slips under the radar of our sales resistance. An ad can’t convince us Audi is the world’s best car. But it can move us toward ruling out a whole class of other brands. That gets Audi halfway home.
AGENCY: Bates Backer & Spielvogel, Oslo, Norway
CLIENT: Audi Norway
MEDIUM: consumer print
ART DIRECTOR: Thorbjorn Naug
COPYWRITER: Aris Theophilakis
PHOTOGRAPHY: Audi/Anne Isene
JENN-AIR KITCHEN APPLIANCES
This ad runs a risk in giving people credit for an attention span longer than a dozen words. Wrapped into a narrative about antiquing, the sales pitch is not ‘intrusive’ in advertising’s laudatory sense of that term. But readers will be happy to take this reserved approach as a sign of deference to their sophistication. The body copy’s narrative tells us the protagonist looked high and low for the perfect chair while her husband found a range and refrigerator in a single day. Given Jenn-Air’s lofty reputation, ‘there really wasn’t much point looking anywhere else. Even she could see that.’ And we know what a perfectionist she must be, judging from her quest for that chair. Of course, scarcely anyone these days has months of Saturdays to look for perfect chairs, but for that very reason, it’s a fantasy the target reader will find appealing. And it positions Jenn-Air as the brand you would chose if you had endless amounts of time in which to compare household appliances–which you don’t.
AGENCY: Leo Burnett, Chicago
CLIENT: Jenn-Air, Indianapolis
MEDIUM: consumer print
EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR: John Eding
ART DIRECTOR: Mark Faulkner
COPYWRITER: Stephan Postaer
PHOTOGRAPHERS: Bruce Wolf, Dave Jordano
RITE AID DRUG STORES
To judge by TV commercials, people in the service sector always want to be our friends. Bankers, real estate agents, pharmacists–they’re all gushing with amiability. The upshot, predictably enough, is that lots of us would like to see less chumminess and more competence. This spot will especially please viewers who feel that way. ‘Maggie Brown almost died today,’ the voiceover intones as we see somber footage of this female firefighter at the scene of a blaze. ‘But not fighting a fire. Her new doctor prescribed a drug that can have a fatal interaction with a medication she’s already on. She forgot to tell him about it. But Rite Aid’s Life Check computer caught it instantly.’ When the camera takes us to Rite Aid, there are no clips of a smiling pharmacist making small talk with her customer. Indeed, we see her frown as the ‘Drug Interaction’ warning flashes urgently on her computer screen. ‘Life is filled with risks,’ the voiceover continues. ‘Going to the drug store shouldn’t be one of them.’ Nothing in this docu-drama makes us feel a trip to Rite Aid will be a fun-filled outing. But we sense the place is geared up to do a professional job for us.
AGENCY: Marc, Pittsburgh
CLIENT: Rite Aid, Camp Hill, Pa.
MEDIUM: 30-second TV
EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Ed Fine
SENIOR CD: Tony Jaffe
ART DIRECTOR: John Swisher
COPYWRITER: Holly Humphrey
AGENCY PRODUCER: Lisa Long
PRODUCTION CO.: Headquarters, Hollywood
DIRECTOR: Robert Black
Copyright ASM Communications, Inc. (1997) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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