Dave Trott
Oct 11, 2023

Dave Trott's blog: Advertising as crossword clues

Advertising is often confusing, and while many believe there must be an underlying sense, the layers of meaning can be hard to decipher, says Dave Trott

Dave Trott's blog: Advertising as crossword clues

Most advertising makes no sense.

That’s not a secret, we all know it, it’s all around us.

But we believe someone, somewhere must know what it means, so it must make some sort of sense.

It got sold, someone bought it.

And it must have been sold in logical steps.

So, to make sense of the ads, all we have to do is reverse the process.

Just logically peel back the layers of the onion. Step by step.

Then we can see what the original idea was that everyone thought the ads were delivering.

It’s a logical challenge, working something out.

Like working out a crossword clue.

So let’s take an example, a new campaign.

It’s for a supermarket and everyone is dancing in their kitchens.

So the first question is: why are they dancing in their kitchens?

No problem, it must be a metaphor.

Obviously, the food won’t actually make you dance.

So the dancing is a metaphor for having fun.

Okay, why are they having fun?

Obviously, this is for people who enjoy cooking, they enjoy food.

To them it’s fun.

So what does that have to do with the supermarket?

The answer is it’s another metaphor.

It’s a metaphor for the fact that this supermarket must be known for good quality food.

So people who think food is fun will prefer this supermarket.

Of course, we can’t just say that their quality is what makes them better than other supermarkets.

Not according to current thinking we can’t.

We have to show the way it contributes to the consumer’s life.

We’re not just selling food, we’re selling fun.

Dancing is fun, so we’re selling a feeling that’s as much fun as dancing.

So if you want your kitchen to feel like fun, shop at our supermarket.

And our gimmick is, we’ll film real people, dancing in their own kitchens.

That’ll make it more believable and less like all the other dancing ads.

And now we’ve managed to deconstruct the ad.

We know what it means.

Unfortunately that’s only one ad.

Given that every ad all around us looks the same, they all have to be deconstructed the same way.

That’s a lot of work for a consumer watching TV.

You have to wonder if most ordinary people could be bothered.

Given that we’re each exposed to roughly 2,000 ads a day.

Between TV, laptops, smartphones, cinema, radio, posters, OOH digital, newspapers, magazines, door drops, pre-rolls, banner ads, pop-ups, Facebook, Twitter, bus cards, cross-track, taxis, and the rest of the advertising blizzard.

Yup, everyone gets around 2,000 ads each, every day, thrown at them.

So, do we really think we need to be making advertising that has to be worked out like cryptic crossword clues?

Or can we think of another job we should be doing?

Dave Trott is the author of Crossover Creativity, The Power of Ignorance, Creative Blindness and How to Cure It, Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three

(This article first appeared on CampaignLive.co.uk)

Campaign India

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