Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Tube is a Funny Word

There’s a few ads I’d like to talk about today. 

Tube ads are remarkably diverse, ranging from high quality, agency driven campaigns, to some pretty sleazy fare which come off as the creepy uncle to those banner ads you find on news websites.

(You know the ones, about the 55 year old mom who confounds doctors with skin treatments and/or makes random exciting dollar amounts per month. From home! And it’s all about the shocking truth about one little trick, possibly from China.)

So on that note, our first contender. This is a group of ads from the same company about their various products, including Pregnacare and Wellbaby. They hawk vitamin supplements to (expecting) mothers, which is one of those areas where I think it’s pretty hard to justify advertising.

But quite apart from the ethics of the ads, they just aren’t good. Sure they nail the implied fear about not doing enough for your baby, but simple comparison with the ads around them makes them look scuzzy and untrustworthy just from their low production values.

Plus the names just don’t inspire confidence, mostly because they seem so open and desperate. Pregnacare. For caring for you when you’re pregnant. Wellbaby. Because you want your baby to be well, right? Right? You get what we’ve saying?

It’s just creepy as shit.

Next on the list is an interesting example, British Military Fitness – it’s all about those fitness programmes with military instructors that you see in the park and make you very glad that you’re not doing them. And then you go home and try to do some pushups.

The ad itself is quite fun and playful. It’s all about convincing you that their programme can be fun as well as a good work out. What’s interesting about it though is that it is very time conscious. It knows that its core aim has to be to engage and inform you about its merits in as little as the time between one Tube stop and the next.

In fact it explicitly says that that’s what it’s doing. Which is at the least eye-catching. But it doesn’t scrimp on copy. Quite the opposite, it makes a clear, informative, but concise sell. And then lets you on your way.

And all in all it works.

I’m saving my current favourite for last. Audible is probably the best funded of the three I’m talking about here – it’s a subsidiary of Amazon. It’s a subscription service for audiobooks, which I confess I wasn’t aware of as a thing until these ads came out.

In a way that’s great, because the ads for Audible are great at selling the concept – which is key to growing the market.

What works about them is a simple art direction choice – showing the listener, and showing them surrounded by the words of the book. It really illustrates simply and effectively the joy of audiobooks – to be surrounded by the voice, thoughts, feelings of a book. And the copy does the rest of the job, describing how you can carry books around you easily in the crush of the train, and how easily you can get new material, only paying monthly rather than for every book. And the people in the ads are realistic – they look happy, attractive, but realistic. People you can identify with, enjoying books – and enjoying them on the train. It’s a very apt bit of targeting.

So that’s it. Tube ads from high to low.

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