'Tis The Season
There’s so much negativity in the world these days. So we decided to do our part by, you know, shoveling some scoops onto that pile. So, we made an Ad Vent calendar. Every day from now to December 25, we’re going to vent about something in advertising that we loathe. Crappy green-screens. Clickbait. Stock photos. Uninformative infographics. Us. The list goes on. And on. And on. And on.
Copywriter Writes Worst Headlines Possible — Watch
Ok, let’s admit it. We all love clickbait, right? Woah… woa… put down the pitchfork. Yeah, clickbait is terrible. It completely breaks the “under promise, over deliver” rule. And we’re sick of it. These headlines promise amazing things, but they don’t deliver, even a little bit.
You’re not trendy
Sure, people are still seeking out gluten-free like their lives depended on it. Yes, your product may be no-calorie, no-VOC, environmentally friendly water—it’s plain water, what do you expect? There’s no need to announce it with a stupid red starburst on your package. Jumping on the latest bandwagon just makes you look like pandering jerks who think their customers are idiots. Gluten-free rice? Of course it’s gluten-free. Rice isn’t wheat—neither is meat, vegetables or salt. Or fabric. Or rocks. So stop announcing it like you’ve made some sort of amazing scientific breakthrough.
Totally Unnecessary #Hashtags
OK. We #get that you want your #content to be #discoverable, but #please #stop with all of the #unnecessary #hashtags. (It’s not just that they look weird, but consumers don’t really like them.)
#branding #socialmedia #marketing #hashtag101 #enoughalready #isanyoneclickingonthese #bueller
Irrelevant Holiday Deals
We learned our lesson: never listen to the radio in the car between November and January.
I mean, seriously, who the hell buys sod in winter? How do you honestly connect Thanksgiving to brake pads? Good thing you’re offering that discount on lumber, Grandma’s been asking for Christmas.
Be the Nerdy Cheerleader
We get it, all the cool advertising kids are wearing the latest trends: digital dungarees, Facebook fanny packs, content khakis, Twitter turtlenecks. But good God, people. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should (that includes crack). So please – stop trying to be the cool cheerleader shouting trendy marketing tactics before letting your inner nerd set a meaningful strategy. Otherwise, the fanny packs win. And that’s just wrong.
Texting During Presentations
I get it. Your daughter’s getting a haircut with her friends and wants to use the car. But you’re genuinely not sure if she means the drink that involves pulls of peppermint schnapps and chocolate syrup or a mohawk and you don’t honestly like the sound of either, so you think you’re justified when you whip out your germy little iPhone during my presentation. Well, you’re not. You think I spent hours crafting this deck like an artisanal cheese just for you to say “what was that, again?” and “sorry, I missed that.” Wrong again. Also, news flash: your daughter’s going to “miss your text” and take the car anyway.
Selling out is your problem, not ours
We clicked your article/photo/offer. We were promised bad celebrity plastic surgery—a tiny window with part of an earlobe and a popped collar is not going to make us feel better about our choices. Don’t add to our shame by filling the screen with so many ads we can’t even see the shocking photo.
Good luck with those sponsors, we won’t be back.
Save a Creative, Limit the Stock
Time, budget and availability sometimes mean you have to use a stock photo. It happens. Just don’t make a habit of it, ok? Along with killing your creatives’ need to be, you know, creative, finding that perfect shot of a thumbs-up, creepily smiling adult female takes longer than you think.
While we’re at it, who comes up with these things and why do you need them anyway? That guy’s head is a goat. There’s a pregnant belly slicing kiwis. What’s with all the random, kinky food shots?* WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?
*Note: these are all real. stock. photos.
Disruption is not a tactic
You know that disruption is a result, right? You can’t just say, “We’ve got to be disruptive!” and expect anyone to know what the hell you mean.* You actually have to make some sort of change that makes you different. New. Better.
*Unless you mean be loud and annoying so people get distracted from their daily routine. We can do that. Won’t sell your product any better. Might make people mad. But we can come to your office and run around, yell, and surprise people by unexpectedly jumping out from underneath furniture. If you think that will improve things, we’re in.
When Some Rando Brand Follows You On Insta
Here’s a tip, brands: just because you like, comment or follow us doesn’t mean we’ll reciprocate. We gram a pic of a kid, a dog or a selfie and all of a sudden, BAM! You’re there with your completely off-topic towing service. Kind of like you’re lurking IRL.
You’re right behind me, aren’t you?
Condescending parental judgments from brands
Oh, your kid’s crying? Give him a cheap piece of fruit and he’ll stop, they say.
Oh, your kid’s going back to school? Buy her a new backpack to make her more confident – that’ll put a smile on her face, they say!
Don’t do these things and you’ll end up with a sad, backpack-less freak with self-esteem issues, they say.
You know what we say? Hop off. We have humans to raise.
X means GO AWAY
You’re mid-sentence when…
BAM! POP-UP AD!
Alright. You’ve seen these before. Breathe. You know how to handle this. You search for the X.
Where is it? Come on.
Oh, there it is. Ok. Click and clos– nope…it’s still there. Maybe it didn’t feel you. Click again and clos– nope.
Before you know it, you’ve spent half your life in some screwed-up Sisyphus story with an X on a pop-up ad.
Infographics get views and shares. Your boss likes them. We like them. They’re easily digestible nuggets of colorful information with cute images.
Except when they’re not.
Infographics are not –
A graph (Yes, graph is a part of the word infographic. You’re aware a mongoose isn’t a bird, aren’t you?)
A table (It doesn’t matter if you used Excel or Word and have pretty colors.)
A graphic or picture (Those are graphics and pictures. Also, clipart.)
Filled with useless information (If the data is meaningless or conjecture then you’re an ass for making it into an infographic.)
If you think you do the above, stop it.
R.I.P. to the days when stalking was limited to real, live people.
Remember the tea diffuser and silent vibrating alarm watch you perused on your lunch break? If not, no worries. There will be ads everywhere, on every webpage for the rest of the week. Now, whenever you check Facebook, you’ll get targeted ads for the underwear you bought your boyfriend for Valentine’s day right next to the hearing aids you bought your mother for Christmas.
Real people, not actors
Sure, it seems like a good idea to hire a “real” person. (Actors being fake people, of course. We hear they’re synthetically bred in abandoned studios in Burbank.) It’ll be so much more “authentic” if you film a bunch of people who just so happen to be beautiful and just so happen to like your product. They might even work for free just to get on TV!
Don’t kid yourselves. Bad acting is bad acting – and that tends to be a result of not being a PROFESSIONAL. You’re going to end up coaching more, taking more time and ending up with crappy commercials.
Really crappy commercials.
Hire an actor. Your niece may be cute, but she can’t act. Spend a little and you might make an ad that makes your brand matter.
Useless, stupid, ugly banner ads
They’re intrusive enough without making them crappy as well.
Don’t just try and shove one of your print/TV ads into that squirrely rectangle. It’s not the same thing and you know it. Different media require different ideas – yeah, they should relate to your brand, but use the media to its advantage. And “changing” it with flashing, scrolling type is annoying, not interesting. It’s a cop out. Put a real idea together.
We’re supposed to be a creative industry, so get creative.
Definition: Overblown business for use.
Example: “We utilize daily calendaring for time optimization.”
Definition: The business equivalent of the high-school clique.
Example: “Our company has done away with the siloed model, allowing the confluence of multiple ideations to result in one perfect tactic.”
Definition: A mutually advantageous conjunction or compatibility of distinct business participants or elements (as resources or efforts). – Actual definition, it makes even the dictionary sound like an asshole.
Example: “We prefer the synergy of an integrated office rather than siloed departments.”
Definition: For real, it’s a company valuation technique – in your case, it’s a way to imply that no one else could reach the same conclusion without all the blabbing you just did.
Example: “The C-Suite has determined that your department has not achieved its optimal performance benchmarks in the allotted time frame – net-net, you’re fired.”
Definition: Saying or writing a bunch of crap to make sure everyone knows you are the authority on everything.
Example: “Our blog is the repository for the erudite pieces that highlight our exemplary thought leadership.”
Definition: A way to make it sound like you actually give a crap about your customers.
Example: “We’d love to have a communications plan that fosters true engagement with our root audience.”
We have no idea what we’re saying
We want to relate to clients by using the jargon of their biz, so somehow “net-net” works its way into our lexicon. We don’t have a clue what it really means, but it sure sounds impressive. And we feel very businessy and grown-up when we say them. Who cares that we could’ve communicated with real, simple words and be understood – we’re in advertising!
Here’s a handy guide to our top-hated buzzwords of 2016. Click on a word for definition and usage. Then never use them. Ever.
Business slow? Get naked!
“We need to be edgy.” – Hip Agency Exec.
“They’ll only listen if we’re controversial.” – Desperate PR Pro.
Sigh. That’s like wearing a band’s T-shirt at their concert, expressing yourself through motivational quotes on LinkedIn, or adults in sports jerseys. You’re trying too hard.
So what if it’s hard to bring attention to that campaign to save all the homeless three-legged cats? Taking an agency-wide nude photo isn’t going to help.
How about doing great work that means something? If it happens to spur some angst, fine. But don’t be controversial for the sake of controversy. People will just stare as if you’re naked – and that’s not pretty.
Just because you call it “artisanal” doesn’t make it good. Those small-batch pickles with a 250-year-old brining recipe made with local, organic dill aren’t guaranteed to taste good nor are they necessarily a higher quality pickle. Do you stick to pre-Industrial Revolution sanitary habits too? Old stuff sucks all the time. Great-Granny’s soap was made from fat, ashes and lye. It didn’t help your complexion, it burned your face off.
And if you’re some big conglomerate, there’s no way you’re making artisanal products. Sorry, but fast-food joints don’t get to use the word to describe themselves or their food. Ever.