Thursday, May 31, 2007

Late Night TV Asks "How Dumb Are You?"

Let's face it, late night advertising isn't ever likely to be interesting or informative. Anyone who can only afford to pay the very low rates for advertising in the 1 am to 4 am timeslot probably hasn't got a product that's worth selling. But with so many recording and timeshift options these days, perhaps advertising in that timeslot is actually a smart thing to do, given that more people than ever before will see your advert, next day when they watch what they recorded last night. That being the case, advertisers in that time slot need to start treating their audience as normal human beings, and stop assuming that because their advert is on at 2 am, anyone watching has incredible bowel pain, is lonely for company, or is just completely stupid.

Mind you, you'd have to be incredibly stupid to fall for some of the sexy-sms style adverts. In the centre of our picture is the "Text your postcode and we'll set you up with a root in your area" scam. They assume you already have internet access, because the only way to read the full terms and conditions is on their website, and yet somehow you will never have heard of Messenger, MySpace, Meetro, FriendFinder and a thousand other online services which allow you to search by area, for free. Never mind the small print on the ad, which charges you $4 per message received by you from them - if you're stupid enough to send in your postcode and live in a big city, what is to stop them from sending you a thousand contacts at $4 each?

Then there's the "Guess my cup size and win $5,000" scam. Seems easy to me, she's obviously a C-cup, but again, the small print takes the cake. You've actually got to answer 2 rounds of 5 questions each, at $5 per message, to even go into the draw for the prize. That's a raffle that costs $50 per ticket, and you can bet that the last question would be something like "What was the population of Brazil in 1867, and name them all". How dumb are people? Well obviously dumb enough that the promoters figure they'll make a fortune off this moronic scam.

An Honourable Mention has to go to the Adult Literacy adverts. For years, the people who organise these campaigns haven't been able to figure out the fundamentals of their target market - that they can't actually read! I used to live with an illiterate guy, and I can tell you that having the phone number dancing around with little eyes and singing the number at you just doesn't work because (a) you've had to make the jingle so complicated to get all those numbers in that no illiterate can remember it, and (b) just because he's illiterate doesn't mean he's 5 years old. One of the biggest problems my friend had with the whole Adult Literacy sector is the tendency to treat every client like he was a naughty 3 year old, not an adult. Better results could be had by using a plain sans-serif font, large and totally immobile, on screen in the same place for the whole advert. Stupid jingles like "One-three-double-Ooooo-six-triple-five-oh-six" with overlapping digits that are comic-style, move, jiggle and blink are the last thing likely to get results. They may not be able to read, but they can probably copy numbers down - if only you'd give them something decent to copy from. And as for the genius who decided to put adverts on the back of taxis that say "Can't read? Phone…" - he or she should be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes.

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