If you know me even a little, you’ll know that I’m an ad-writer. Mainly because I rant about it all the time. And as copywriters often do, I too write the occasional ‘howler’ that’s well written, but as the client says, “…it’s too intelligent for our target audience”. And in my short career of almost two years, I have heard this from every client and almost every account executive, not to mention my creative director and boss, “Tone it down a bit, they might not understand.”
Yes I agree simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, but I don’t see why we can’t look any other way. Now I refuse to believe that. I happen to agree with a few of Leo Burnett’s philosophies. One of them being, ‘if you write considering your customer is stupid, you’ll make stupid ads’. So what if they won’t understand a reference or a pun at the first go? It’s human tendency to find out more about something they don’t completely know, especially if someone they know knows about it.
I believe what doesn’t go over their head, goes beneath them. The modern day consumer is tired of being talked down to. But he can’t go and complain to a hoarding he sees on the highway. All he can do is hate the product for attempting to spoon-feed him.
So he will.
I think brands should stop undermining their customers. It’s not the best motivator to find out the only reason your consumer buys your product is because he is stupid enough. Advertising is evolving day-by-day, with social media and mobile holding the impetus to current and future marketing platforms.
On one hand we learn from the more developed nations and create & recreate innovative ads. On the other we insist on highlighting the word ‘Free’ & ‘Discount’ in a repetitive manner on retail posters.
The only intelligent work we see these days are done for awards. Imagine being awarded for something you’re not supposed to do in the first place. It’s like school all over again, you are taught things that you might never need, unless for General Knowledge purposes. Yet, where you head in life somehow depends on how you fare.
As the award-getting content gets stronger, the sales-getting content is getting monotonous and blander. It’s probably about time brands realize that such ‘Intelligence’ & ‘Innovation’ will only manage to fill their shelves and not their wallets. And if the standards of brand-to-consumer interactions keep falling, the day won’t be far when the consumer walks right over them.