I was driving on the highway the other day when I notice a big billboard that looked somewhat like this (the third one to the right)…

photo credit: twitter user

I thought to myself: is it a woman attacking a robot? Is she being tortured? There were no words, no noticeable logo. Then, I looked a bit closer and I noticed a small Postmates logo at the corner. What did I just see? This ad was all types of wrong. It was disturbing, uninformative…simply put, it was very odd. The ad did not scream Postmates in any way and it was very different from all other types of advertising I had seen from them in the past.

I wasn’t alone in my negative reaction. Some people commented it looked like torture. Others say it’s a desperate plea for attention since they are consistently losing money. The good part is that it inspired me to write an article to clearly dissect what went wrong, in the hopes of helping other businesses avoid the same errors. This is similar to what I did on my review of Yahoo’s bad advertising. Interested in learning more? Let’s get started.

Here’s what you can learn from it:

1. Keep a consistent look and feel

It only takes a quick glance at Postmates’ social media or app to realize these ads don’t match their current look and feel. As you can see below, their images usually have a bright and colorful look:

This is very different from their new sultry ads. So much so, that there is a disconnect between the two. Someone unfamiliar with Postmates will most probably not be able to connect their new ads to their brand, which creates brand inconsistency. It makes customers feel confused and wonder if they should expect something different from the company.

Also, brand inconsistency can push customers to lose trust on your brand. People trust brands that they know and can rely on. If you change your brand image so drastically, it makes people question how much they really know your company and what it stands for. Thus, risking losing the brand trust it took you so long to build.

“An inconsistent look and feel can confused customers and make them lose trust on your brand”

2. Connect your ads with a goal and a call to action

Every ad should be created with a goal in mind. This goal can be as simple as brand awareness, or relating the brand with a specific emotion or target audience. This is what gives the ad purpose and motivates the audience to take action, or to make a connection between the brand and a feeling.

For instance, Coca-Cola’s ads are all about happiness and colorful scenarios. They encourage people to buy cokes to “open happiness” or “share happiness”. Obviously, people don’t believe that having a Coke is the actual key to happiness, but the ad is successful at making the audience relate happy moments with Coke. Thus, Coca-Cola’s goal is for the audience to associate happy moments with drinking a Coke.

The issue with Postmates’ ads is that their goal is confusing and inappropriate. To start, food is the main focus of attention. This focus would have been ok if it was somewhat linked to food delivery either by text or supporting images, but is not. So the ads end up looking more like a commercial for a restaurant than a delivery service.

“Give your ads a purpose, goal, and call to action. They will guide you to create more impactful ads”

The lack of message or call to action doesn’t help the audience know how to associate the brand with the disturbing photos. Am I supposed to want to use Postmates because I can get “love at first bite” (the name of their campaign)? I can use multiple other services if I wanted to get food. So there is no clear reason why I should use Postmates. If the ad’s message and goal would have been more relevant, the ad would have been able to have a bigger positive impact.

3. Know your audience

Knowing your target audience will enable you to create ads that actually resonate with them. You have to go beyond knowing simple demographics and really get to know their interests, what’s trending among that specific group, and what brands or influencers they look up to.

Another key piece of information you should know is when and why they would use your service or product. This can be better explained with the “jobs to be done” theory by Harvard professor Clayton Christensen. Put simply, this theory proposes that people “hire” different services or products for different reasons at different moments in time. So, if you simply look at demographics, without considering different jobs to be done scenario, you may miss the mark of why people are actually buying or using your products/services. This is explained on the basis of innovation, but it can also be used in cases like this one to get to the root of what motivates people to buy.

Knowing the true motivations behind your audience, and getting to know them well, will allow you to have more successful campaigns. In the case of Postmates, they failed to recognized their audience would be more disgusted than motivated to use their service with such photos.

Final Words

By keeping a consistent look and feel, having a clear goal, and knowing your audience, you’ll be able to create ads that impact your audience in the right way. Now over to you….have you had similar issues in the past? What has been your main struggle while promoting your brand? Comment below!

Read more: Bad Professor Syndrome