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Wrong-footedness in Advertising

May 31, 2016

Sub.jpgI’ve come upon two recent examples of advertising that gets off on the wrong foot. These two ads actually make me angry at the brands in question before I even learn what the pitch is. The first example is courtesy of Jersey Mike’s, the submarine sandwich chain. Actually, I happen to like their tagline, “A Sub Above”. To be sure, it tells us nothing useful about the product. All they’re really saying is, “We’re better.” And that’s not enough of a differentiator. But I think the clever pun, the lyrical rhyme and short-and-sweetness of it combine to make it noteworthy and memorable. Very apt for a relaxed and friendly fast food outlet. No, my problem with Jersey Mike’s advertising is the first line of one of their TV ads. A very serious voiceover intones, “Every sandwich tells a story.”

 Um. No. They don’t.

Or, if they do, then, in the past few decades, I’ve completely missed out on hundreds of thousands of communiques my lunches were trying to send my way. Sorry guys. My mind was elsewhere. Guess I was too wrapped up in how delicious you were.

Now, I know a certain amount of hyperbole in advertising is permissible – even expected. But this ad’s claim is so risible I actually tuned it out immediately upon hearing it. So I don’t even know if Jersey Mike’s went on to justify their metaphor. Call it a personal quibble but now I get angry whenever I see one of their locations. I still like “A Sub Above”, though.

365_ad.jpgThe next example comes courtesy of 365 by Whole Foods Market. 365, if you don’t know, is to be a new chain of supermarkets, cheaper than Whole Foods Market, and targeting “millennials”. It’s a means for Whole Foods to develop relationships with younger shoppers who can’t afford the parent stores’ astronomical prices. The first 365 just opened in Los Angeles and it was heralded by at least two full-page ads in the Los Angeles Times. One of those ads showed a real, live millennial male in sneakers, jeans and ratty hair giving a piggy-back ride to a millennial female, also in sneakers, jeans and ratty hair. They appear to be laughing hysterically. The copy reads, “Because we believe making good choices should be a lot less effing time consuming.”

First of all, I hate “Because” statements in advertising. They were cliched back in the ‘80s. Employing them today is terrible copy writing. That’s just “effing" lazy. Secondly, I hate the use of the word “effing” here. As if the only thing that separates millennials from the rest of us is their supposed embrace of vulgar language. If that’s meant to shock us baby boomers into staying in the safe confines of Whole Foods, fail. Finally, the ruffled, slept-in-their-car depiction of the hipster millennial couple is also hackneyed and cliched. Almost as bad as the ridiculously hyperactive “rebels” in Verizon’s television ads.

Overstatement in advertising is fine, to a point, as long as it relates. Over-the-top, nonsensical claims that have nothing to do with the product are just an annoying distraction. Lazy, cliche-ridden advertising that unfairly depicts millennials as unkempt potty mouths who’d rather spend less time shopping for groceries and more time giving piggy-back rides? There has to be some sort of award for that.

Don’t get off on the wrong foot, folks., These kinds of ads actually put up barriers between a brand and its market. 

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