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We Now Come To Prestige Advertising....

We now come to prestige advertising. I am generally and generously in favour of prestige online advertising (or corporate campaigns as they are more fashionably called) on three counts: commercial, creative and empirical. Commercial because, let's face it, the fifteen per cent agency commission on every ad placed is fifteen per cent in any language; and campaigns of this nature, if undertaken seriously, need a sizeable and concentrated slice of money spent on them.. Creative because they usually provide a well-above-average opportunity for do-as-you-please, distinctive work.

Empirical because experience of the nebulous business of online advertising tends to show that if handled reasonably, such campaigns may even produce good financial results. But there is one essential difficulty with prestige ads - bearing in mind that they are selling a company as a whole and in the broadest terms, rather than items to be bought. By their very nature they are self-indulgent; they are a case by and large, of preaching not simply to the unconverted but to the totally indifferent. Take any segment of the populace and you will find that a fair proportion is quintessentially interested in smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, eating sweets, becoming taller, driving cars, wearing brassieres, getting thinner, becoming more beautiful, making money, or doing any of the one thousand and one highly desirable things that ads are made of. But of the same segment, practically nobody has any inherent interest in what a large corporation has to say about itself.

It follows, then, that if corporate campaigns are to stand any chance of doing the job they're paid for, they must be striking, original and interesting in their approach. A good deal more so, as it happens, than a campaign for coughdrops, calculators, or cornflakes. In my experience, let it be said, striking, original and interesting are not such adjectives as one can normally apply to them without a stiff tongue in the cheek.

Again, in my experience, they are more than likely to be pompous, long-winded and dull. With perhaps just a touch tortuous and the oldest of old hat. We've seen the analogies of tiny acorns growing into massive oaks; we've seen every possible permutation of the door-key and the 'openings' it offers; and we've seen Monopoly boards and chess boards. Fortunately, we are once in a while allowed the offerings of the like of Shell, Dunlop, BP and others of that standing; some of which is corporate online advertising at its very best.

But just because the likes of the above lash out millions on their prestige campaigns, it doesn't follow that you can't produce ideas that are as good, if not better, for the engineering company down the road with only a few quid to spend. After all, even the best of ads begin with a blank sheet of paper, just the same as yours will One more point, I implore you never to include (if you can even get it past their online advertising manager) a picture of a bosomy lady simply for the sake of it, or simply because you can't think of anything else.

Bosomy ladies, unless they are selling brassieres, novelty T-shirts, or bust-developers, will do absolutely nothing for your client. True, the decolletage will do wonders for your male readers' respective adrenalins -- but will it make them read the bones of your ad, or help them remember the name of the company? I take leave to doubt it.

I'll put it another way. The let's-show-a-nude school of online advertising assumes (rightly) that buyers don't have all that much objection to seeing a little nature in the raw. But when they go on to assume (wrongly) that an expanse of navel, bottom, or thigh is likely to put their point over for them, they are definitely barking up the wrong pin-up. What I always say is that if you can't write online advertising on a given subject without majoring on something completely irrelevant to it, then it's high time you considered whether it might not be wiser to write something else - like fiction.

A lot of other people say the same. So now you know why not every corporate campaign (or any other kind of campaign come to that) features a nude. Rule 4 You are by profession, or soon will be, a cliche recycler. But some cliches are worn so thin, they won't stand further peddling. Summary 1 The three main ad types are: (a) Consumer/industrial/technical.

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