Welcome to the latest edition of our current weekly blog series, How to Ruin an Ad. As is most obvious from the title of this series, each week we’ll be identifying a key element of an ad that, when missing, is sure to reduce its effectiveness.

Last week’s ad was ruined by a missing phone number.

Today’s ad is ruined by: Making people feel dumb

One of the main reasons to advertise to someone is because they have a problem you can solve, or a need you can fill. So you advertise to them, and in the ad you show them how you can solve their problem or fill their need.

Sometimes, ads need to show people the problem or the need, however, because you’re solving a problem or filling a need they didn’t know they had. This can be quite difficult. And for some companies, in their attempt to illustrate the problem, they end up talking down to their customers.

For example, there is currently a major wireless carrier running a series of commercials featuring a celebrity spokesman making fun of people for using the “wrong phone”. The commercial aims at humor, illustrating the “problem” with getting locked into a two year contract. But in their attempts at humor, they alienate potential customers by making them feel stupid.

You don’t want consumers to associate your brand or product with making them feel dumb, or bad about themselves in some way. They should come away from your ads feeling a positive connection to your brand. Because you want them to choose you over your competition. And people do business with companies they like.

So the next time you prepare an ad, be sure to examine it from the customers’ perspective. How will they feel when they see or hear it?

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