MIXED BLESSINGS | Adweek MIXED BLESSINGS | Adweek
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MIXED BLESSINGS

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Our Better Natures, Happy Brides In Tears, Extraterrestrials, Etc.
Giving may be better than receiving, but even a good product needs advertising. When public service ads try to talk us out of yielding to our darker impulses, they often seem ineffectual. But they can be highly motivating when they urge us to savor the pleasure of doing good deeds. Thus, people cheerfully take money out of their own pockets and mail it off to good causes, even as they resist repeated imprecations to stop smoking or littering or driving while drunk. By its nature, advertising is better at saying "Go ahead" than it is at saying "Stop!" We're even willing to put up with a certain amount of hectoring from an ad when its clear premise is that we're capable of being generous. That's the approach the United Way of Greater Los Angeles takes in an Angelenocentric campaign (via Fraser/Young of Santa Monica). And we're always open to an appeal that aligns our selfless inclinations with our financial self-interest, as in a campaign (by Young & Laramore of Indianapolis) urging people to donate their cars to Goodwill. I can't help wondering whether the net benefit to society would increase if all the effort and money now spent on PSAs designed to suppress destructive habits were shifted into PSAs designed to encourage good deeds. Might the resulting increase in bad behavior be more than offset by an increase in good behavior?

When people say travel broadens the mind, they aren't referring to honeymoon travel. A Bride's magazine poll of newlywed readers finds 68 percent reporting they "didn't learn anything new about their spouse." Probably just as well, considering the alternatives. And it helps explain why (according to the survey) nine of every 10 brides who cry on their wedding nights are shedding "tears of joy."

Who has the second-best batting average in the history of major league baseball? And, while we're at it, who is the second-most-published author of all times? These and other such questions confront readers of an ad for Marvin Gold Management, which manages residential property in the New York metro area. The theme of the ad, created by Porte Advertising of New York, is that "No one remembers the second best in anything." (Eschewing any false modesty, the client declares itself to be the best in its field.) Luring readers into the advertiser's clutches, the ad includes a phone number they can call for answers to the questions, in case they don't know that Rogers Hornsby and Charles Dickens trailed Ty Cobb and William Shakespeare, respectively.

Some unique selling propositions are more unique than others. Here's one for the record books. Though it doesn't say it in so many words, a spot for Equinox Fitness Clubs of New York suggests you'll improve your odds of having sex with cute aliens if you lose weight presumably by working out at Equinox. Created by Anton & Partners of New York (along with production company Big Chair, also of that city), the spot shows a paunchy fellow sitting on a bench in Central Park, eating his lunch. Suddenly, a flying saucer hovers above him, and its pilots--two curvaceous space gals clad in outer-space Gaultier--try to beam him aboard. Our hero looks understandably startled at first, but his expression changes to one of eager anticipation as he eyes his hostesses-to-be. Sadly, his weight is more than the saucer's beam can hoist. So, when a trim, athletic man jogs into view, the women shift the beam his way, and he's last seen rising into the spaceship with a big grin on his face. If that prospect doesn't motivate a person to get into shape, what on earth would?

You think you've got problems? Just be glad you don't have a freight train steaming through your head. (Unless, of course, you do.) Railroad electronics may not be a glamorous category, but an ad for Rockwell (by Creswell, Munsell, Fultz & Zirbel of Cedar Rapids, Iowa) shows it's possible to devise a visually memorable treatment.

Cheapskate clients, take note: A Penton Research Services study of purchasers in business and government finds a "strong relationship" between awareness of a company's ads and an inclination to use it as a supplier. But there's a caveat: "Increases in preference are fairly modest until advertising awareness reaches about 40 percent. After that point, gains in ad awareness are accompanied by much larger increases in company preference." So there.