Is this the worst advert ever?

Eye test used as an advert

Do NOT use this as inspiration for your adverts!

I subscribe to the brilliant Drayton Bird’s daily emails, and some time ago now he sent me his nomination for the world’s worst advert.

Now, in a world filled with terrible adverts, that’s quite an achievement.

Here it is in all its, ahem, glory:

Honestly, this ad does so many things wrong I barely know where to start.

But let’s start with the headline. Or what I think could be the headline.

It’s down in the bottom-right corner, and it’s meaningless. Remember what I said about eye tracking? The headline should be at the top or under the main image.

Why is it meaningless? Because this ad is for business insurance. The headline doesn’t target any readers, impart any useful or relevant information, or promise a benefit. It doesn’t even arouse curiosity. It’s just crap.

The call to action (which is actually good) is barely readable in the top-left corner.

And now the image.

This is what I like to call “creative masturbation”.

It’s utterly unreadable. It’s all in capitals, the letters run into each other, and when you do decipher it, it’s waffle. Nonsense.

Plus, whenever I ask people in my seminars what they think it’s advertising, they say – perfectly reasonably – opticians.

And don’t even get me started on the floating barrel. I’ve no idea.

So, now we’ve established a few reasons WHY this ad is so monumentally woeful, have a guess how much it cost. It was a full-pager in the Wall Street Journal, I believe.

Any ideas?

The going rate for a full-page colour ad in the WSJ is around $300,000.

$300,000, and that’s before the “creative” agency’s fees for their bag of dog vomit up there.

That’s staggering. I’m staggered. Markel pissed more than a quarter of a million dollars up the wall, because I KNOW that ad didn’t bring in any revenue.

The thing is, Markel is one of the world’s biggest and best corporate insurers. They can afford this type of nonsense (although they’re still bonkers – why waste all that money?).

You, on the other hand, can’t. Like me, you run a small business. Also like me, I suspect that if you had $300k to splurge on one advert, you’d be living a rowdy life on an island with Nicolas Cage.

Am I right in thinking that you need to get value for your advertising and marketing? A measurable return on investment?

So let me ask you something. Are you testing your advertising? Are you measuring your responses?

Because if you’re not, you might as well go to the bookies and put your money on the donkeys. If you’re not testing and measuring your marketing, you’re gambling.

And more than likely giving a nice income to well-meaning but marketing-ignorant creative “experts”.

“Creativity” is a dangerous game in marketing.




Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.

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