A lot of idiotic cuteness and cleverness has been wasted on newspaper advertising. No, let me correct myself. Advertisers have wasted a lot of money on cute and clever ads... that ad agencies and publishers have cheerfully encouraged, as they happily line their respective pockets with that wasted money.
Here is an ad (at left) where the cuteness and cleverness sell. It's a very good use of advertising dollars.
Because the dollars spent on this ad will bring in many, many more dollars to the restaurant.
What's different about this ad than, say, the dozens of self-indulgent money-pit ads I saw yesterday on TV while watching college football on ESPN?
For one thing, the humor is focused good naturedly on the prospect (carrying the implicit message: "look how cool you are") instead of on the advertiser (implying: "look how entertaining we are.")
With cleverly-named specials like
- BROKE-ASS COLLEGE NIGHT - $1 per, free shot with college student id
- SO HAPPY HOUR - $5 cocktails, $3 drafts
- HUMP DAY SPECIAL - 1/2 off selected appetizers
If you want to take this to an extreme, you could say there's a benefit to the consumer in each bit of humor.
Another thing that's different is that the humor is not the main event in the ad -- it's complementary to the main event, which is this exotic restaurant itself, Mazu, featuring "pan-Asian cuisine."
Again, flowing from the fact that the humor's purpose is not to reflect back on the exquisite cleverness and cuteness of the business, but rather focus on what's in it for the customer.
Flaw in the ad? One that I see. It's damned hard to read!
The scan you see above is a pretty faithful representation of what it looks like in the paper, the Bay Guardian.
The reverse type (white letters, and scrawny white letters at that, on red and black backgrounds) are where the graphic designer's desire to be über-hip took over the desire of the business to sell.David Garfinkel
Publisher, World Copywriting Newsletter