‘‘Alright fatty, what you after?”
How do you react?
I’m guessing it would taint your opinion of that particular bookshop, making you less inclined to buy.
Nobody likes being disrespected or patronised.
What about if that bookshop owner had said “Oh, just to let you know; the new Proust collection is just in”.
Sure, you’d look behind you to check that they were talking to you, but you couldn’t help but be pleased that they’d presumed you were intelligent.
It may even make you more inclined to go back. (It would me.)
But, since it wore small pants, advertising has talked at people as if they’re dumb.
There’s no evidence that talking down to people is some kind of magic selling bullet.
Yesterday I walked the length of the platform in Archway tube station, studying the endless parade of 16 and 48 sheet posters, by the end I couldn’t help wondering why they all looked so trashy.
They seem to have had the same production budget as the direct mail that I sweep from my doormat every morning, so, not surprisingly, shared a similar vibe.
Each dominated by big words, (in the brand colour).
Each written to the same brief: ‘We’re awesome!’.
Each featuring a cut-out product shot the size of a small car. (Generally on the right.)
Then; words, words, words, everywhere.
Visually, this gives the impression of afterthoughts, a kind of ‘Oh yeah, before you go, we’ve just remembered; we’ve got 4% off until June…AND…hang on, we’re not finished; We’ve just opened our 57th store…in Croydon…it’s open ‘til 8 Sundays…’.
The net affect of this says to its audience ‘we can’t be arsed, you’re not worth it’.
We can’t be arsed to distil our thinking.
To figure out why it’s relevant to you.
To say it succinctly.
To say it in a way that you may enjoy.
To make it look nice.
And we certainly can’t risk giving you the truth; YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!
Why does that make sense?
If you’re asking people to give you their attention at least have the decency to give them something in return. Useful information, a fresh point of view, an observation on their life, a smile or even just something nice to look at, but give them something, throw them a frickin’ bone.
By contrast, these New Yorker ads seem to assume, rightly, that their audience is smart. Just looking at them makes you feel more intelligent.
If you’re trying to win someone over, to sell them something, it helps if they feel that you respect them.
Once, in a Mercedes meeting with Peter Mead, the client wondered whether the ads were too clever for their audience.
Peter said he’d been in a similar meeting 20 years earlier.
In that instance the client had said “I like the ads, but, most of my customers are more likely to be chip shop owners than executives like me, maybe the ads are just too clever?”.
Peter replied “In my experience, chip shop owners don’t mind being talked to as if they’re executives, but executives don’t like being talked to as if they’re chip shop owners”.
(Apologies to any chip shop owners out there who may find that quote offensive…apologies on behalf of Peter.)