For this year’s edition of Readers Rate the Ads, we gave you two assignments. First, to offer your nominees for good and bad ads. Second, to offer some thoughts on the genre of political advertising.
Thank you to those of you who turned in your homework.
On the matter of good and bad ads, there was no consensus on any ad or advertiser, yea or nay, in comparison with other years in which Geico or a similar company could be counted upon to stir the masses.
As it happens, insurance ads were on the mind of one reader who, in the contest between frequent advertisers Geico and Progressive, gave the nod to the latter.
“Here is a company who is not afraid to spend the money to give the public a constant variety of her latest ‘adventures,’” he wrote. “I look forward to viewing the latest and who can forget those eyes? One of the best choices for company rep I have seen in many years.”
But frequency of appearance doesn’t always work in an advertisers favor. That same reader objected to a campaign from CenturyLink “for the frequency that it’s played and how long it has been used. ... I know there is a belief among ad experts that getting the name in front of the public even if it’s done in an obnoxious manner will pay off in that the name will be remembered, but a communications company? We heard that name so often during the transition from the previous company that I would bet that it was embedded in everyone’s brain long ago.”
A complaint about “loud music and loud hawkers” is a frequent one when it comes to comments about ads, which is why another reader response stood out, this one about a TV ad Stressless recliners: “It features a really good jazz riff with a visual-only message and no annoying over-babble.”
Over-babble is such a good term we may need to borrow it when discussing subjects like political ads, on which there was far more unanimity.
“I don’t read or watch political ads – they’re one-sided,” a reader said. “And those (roadside) signs are annoying at best. I’ll wait for the debates but won’t decide definitely until I read the Voters Pamphlet because it’ll give both sides.”
Wrote another: “I try to ignore as many of the attack ads I can and annoying roadside sign clutter. If anything, it would influence me to not vote for that person.”
Several readers noted that the ads are merely products of the underlying, and unhealthy, political system.
“We have created a class of political scavengers whose purpose in life is to gain name recognition by any means,” one reader noted. “They use attack ads, scurrilous public accusations, anything to get their name in print or on the air. They count on a celebrity-enamored populous to vote for them for most any office for which they file.”
One reader opined that the readers are effective because “voters are motivated by self-interest (and) emotions, and ignorant of the intentions of the proponents. It is amazing we do as well as we do. We certainly do not have brightest and best in the country running government at any level from city, state (or) federal offices, so (we) get what we deserve.”
If the ads are, as that last reader suggests, effective, then we’re stuck with them. If potential voters are tuning them out, then as soon as someone in the political class figures out an approach that connects with the electorate, the current system will collapse.
Not in time to save you from this year’s onslaught, however. If you weren’t depressed enough already about the current state of public affairs, that should do it.Bill Virgin is editor and publisher of Washington Manufacturing Alert and Pacific Northwest Rail News. He can be reached at email@example.com.