Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street Journal’

Louis Vuitton Ad Deserves a Gold Medal

August 20th, 2012


There’s an absurd mini-controversy brewing about whether Michael Phelps will be stripped of any of his medals because some Louis Vuitton ads in which he appears were leaked before the Olympics.  (This will soon blow over, as it’s clear that neither Phelps nor Louis Vuitton intentionally violated the ban on pre-Olympics advertising.)  Lost amidst all this needless angst is the fact that the above ad is absolutely brilliant.

When I saw it in last Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, I was was struck first by the elegance of the photo, and then by my curiosity over the “mystery woman” pictured with Phelps.  When I read the fine print and learned that it’s Larisa Latynina–the woman whose record for 18 career Olympics medals Phelps broke–I could not have been more impressed.  Talk about a classy idea…and a classy execution.

In almost all cases, I’m critical of ads that require you to read the fine print, simply because almost no ad is capable of getting a meaningful percentage of readers to do that.  I’m also critical of ads without large, clean, creative headlines and, even more so, ads without prominent mention of the brand name or logo.  However, when you have a stunning, provocative photo–and when that photo prominently features your highly recognizable product–it turns out you can be effective without a headline and without a large logo.

Please don’t try this at home, however; unless your product is as distinctive as a Louis Vuitton bag, and your art director and photographer are as gifted as the people who created this ad, going without a strong headline and strong logo is a sure route to a complete waste of your advertising dollars.

So just sit back and appreciate the above ad for being as much an exception to the rules of advertising as Michael Phelps and Larisa Latynina are to the sports of swimming and gymnastics.

Morgan Stanley “World Wise” Ad Is Anything But

September 13th, 2010

Looking for some “rules” on how to create effective advertising?  Here’s a good one for starters:   “Make sure your audience can read the words you’ve written.” Duh. (Or, as Courteney Cox’s character Jules would say on the brilliant Cougar Town, “Der!”)

Every time I get in my car I’m amazed at how many billboards make it impossible for a driver to read the message without risking life and limb.  And every time I pick up a magazine or newspaper I’m equally amazed how many advertisers apparently believe that readers have nothing better to do but get out the magnifying glass to scrutinize every miniscule word in their ridiculously cluttered ad.

Recently Morgan Stanley began running an ad campaign on the front page of my favorite newspaper, The Wall Street Journal. The ads are tiny–slightly over 3″ x 4.5″–but that’s not the problem.  The problem is incredibly poor graphic design that makes the ads virtually illegible.

For example, the designer of the above ad chose to superimpose white type over a light green background.  This, coupled with the poor resolution that’s inherent in newspapers, renders the body copy unreadable.  Okay, I’m exaggerating; if you’re willing to squint and expose the ad to ideal lighting conditions, you might be able to make out some of the body copy, including the wonderfully ironic phrase, “…Morgan Stanley has the global insight to help you identify opportunities…”  If Morgan Stanley is so  insightful, why are they running an ad that’s almost impossible to read?

On top of that, the background graphic is an art deco illustration of water rushing over some sort of stepped structure, with a woman standing nearby.  Huh?  Given the reference to “World” in the headline, I can only assume this graphic is supposed to be some known international site, but I don’t have a clue what or where it’s supposed to be.

If Morgan Stanley got a single phone call or website hit as a result of this ad, I’d be absolutely stunned.

If that weren’t bad enough, the brand name “Morgan Stanley” is just about invisible.  It’s almost as if they didn’t want anyone to know who the advertiser is.

Wait a minute.  Maybe a little more wisdom went into the creation of this ad than I’d thought…

The Times, They Are A-Changin’–for the Worse

November 22nd, 2009

I live in the Chicago area, but my wife and I subscribe to the Sunday New York Times. To me, it’s the second-best newspaper in the country, trailing only the Wall Street Journal. A Sunday without the Times–and particularly without their crossword puzzle–is like a Sunday without….well, without CBS Sunday Morning. It just isn’t Sunday!

So when my Sunday Times didn’t arrive last week, I immediately called their toll-free number to alert them to this impending catastrophe. I was assured by the automated voice at the other end of the line that our paper would be delivered by 9:30 that morning. Whew–Catastrophe averted! Or so I thought. When the paper had yet to arrive at 10:30, I called again, but this time the previously cooperative recorded voice informed me that I was out of luck: they would not be able to deliver the paper to me. I left a “firm” (“firm” being a euphemism for “irate”) voicemail message, naively hoping I would get a return phone call the following day. When that didn’t happen, I called again, and eventually succeeded in reaching a live body. The woman I spoke to was quite cordial and said she would send me a copy of the Sunday paper by second-class mail. Finally, I thought; somebody there understands the concept of customer service! The only downside to my conversation was that it took her about 15 minutes to take care of my paperwork. That should have been a clue that this heart-wrenching story was not to have a happy ending.

The good news: the paper did get delivered. The bad news: it didn’t arrive until Saturday. The worse news: we were sent two copies of the front-half of the paper, and no copies of the other half–the half that would have included my crossword puzzle. I know what you’re thinking: Oh, the humanity!!!

It’s no secret that the newspaper industry is in huge and irreversible trouble. While there are many reasons for this, one could argue that the biggest reason is that newspaper publishers simply lost touch with their readers’ needs, habits and desires. (Surely anyone who has witnessed the Chicago Tribune’s utter disregard for its readers under the insensitive and inept ownership of Sam Zell can second that motion.) In an age where I can get a phone call from Apple’s customer service team within five seconds of submitting a request for service on their website, the kind of customer service exhibited by the New York Times is as antiquated and useless as a Gutenberg printing press.

Loyal customers are hard to come by in any business, and especially in the newspaper business. Failing to make loyal customers feel appreciated is a sure and sad sign of a company whose best days are behind it. That’s clearly the case with most newspapers, and I fear it’s also the case with the New York Times.

I’m not sure that qualifies as news, but I at least hope that it’s fit to print.