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The Power of the Single-Minded Message Featured

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Outdoor Boarding - AIDS campaign Outdoor Boarding - AIDS campaign

It’s rule 101.  Focus on one clear, unambiguous message, and your ad will be stronger, more easily understood and more clearly remembered.

Of course, it’s not always as simple as that.  Legislation compels some advertisers to include disclaimers that no-one bothers to read anyway - just think of the pharmaceutical and banking ads.  And advertisers go to great lengths to comply with these regulations but still produce ads that focus on the single-minded message. 

But sometimes it is the client who wants to include the kitchen sink, and it’s not always possible to dissuade them.  And since it is their money, they get to make that decision.  That might compromise the advertising message, but so be it.

Sometimes, however, the consequences are worse.  The message that is communicated may not be what was intended at all.
Take the KZN Department of Health’s current outdoor campaign.  The visual shows a schoolgirl talking to a presumably older, wealthy and successful man through the window of his shiny silver 4X4.  The headline cautions:  Nothing is free, are you willing to pay the price?  “Sugar Daddies” destroy lives.

Now I believe that there is a lot wrong with this ad.  Firstly, the copy should be stronger and more specific.  Why not use the word AIDS?  Secondly, the typography is hard to read.  The layout also seems to indicate that that while Sugar Daddies destroy lives they also fight disease and poverty and give hope.   But my real issue is the ego of the MEC for Health.

Annoyingly, government ministers seem to think that their faces belong in their departments’ ads and this is no exception, so the MEC’s face dominates the layout.  But in this case, it is a very poor exercise in vanity and self-promotion – instead of showing him as the champion of the fight against AIDS, it looks more like a warning to watch out for this particular “Sugar Daddy”. 

The moral of the story is:  stick to the single-minded message.  In this case:  Warning:  Older, wealthy men can give you HIV/ AIDS.  Be very careful who you sleep with. 

It is not the job of this ad to build the profile of a public servant.  (And if you are going to include a spokesman of any sort in your ad, make sure there is a reason for him to be there.  Or he might end up looking like the villain of the piece, instead of the hero.)

Last modified on Friday, 28 September 2012 19:42
Ann Druce

Ann Druce

Ann Druce heads up Octarine, a marketing communications and advertising agency, where she focuses on copywriting and marketing strategies for clients in the professional and industrial sectors. Prior to that, Ann spent 15 years in marketing management for major companies including Unilever and Adcock Ingram before joining an ad agency.

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