By students, for students.

Secrets of advertising: Wit

In Marketing on December 10, 2012 at 11:48 am

It's summertime in london

A clever ad is witty.

Let me explain.

The world of advertising is schizophrenic. Authorities such as the Advertising Standards Agency pronounce as if the profession has an Orwellian stranglehold on the way we think. On the other, and in reality, political sound-bites have halved in length to keep pace with audiences’ shrinking attention span as they desperately fast forward their Tivo box to avoid the tedium of the fifth Renault ad that evening.

A clever advertiser reconciles advertising’s potential power with widespread resistance to the barrage of slogans people battle daily. This is achieved by providing content worthy of 90 seconds of consideration and so being positively welcomed by potential customers.

Most satisfyingly this has been achieved through wit. In an age of mass production, digital selling and global supply chains, wit is the closest a customer comes to directly interacting with the human face and character of a business. For instance, the Eurostar’s ‘summertime in London’ campaign showed a Royal Guard at the barbers, getting the fur of his bearskin hat shaved off to reveal an elongated head. And consider the Economist’s billboards proclaiming “Great minds like a think.”

Each ad is playful, subversive and unexpected and, crucially, cuts to the heart of their service’s value. The Eurostar becomes more than a transport solution, but a connection between neighbours – connected despite their eccentricities and dissimilarities. The Economist presents itself as possessing an alternative perspective and enjoyable rhetorical style (and a club their target reader would appreciate being invited to join). The same element of the unexpected suffuses the latest Guinness “Cloud” ad. You take on the message of a clever ad as a consenting partner and not a hostage.

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