Business Columns & Blogs

Readers weigh in on ads in their world

Do you talk back to your TV during and about the ads – even (or especially) when you’re alone?

Then you’re in the right place, as we convene for the 11th edition of Readers Rate the Ads and present your comments about the advertising scene:

 • There was no runaway favorite or despised ad. One with multiple mentions was from Subaru. A dad explains to his daughter, seated on the driver’s side even though she can’t see over the dashboard, about safety; at the end of the ad the little girl has been replaced by a teen driver.

“I never fail to get an emotional tug when we realize the little girl really is all grown up,” commented one News Tribune reader. “Any parent who’s ever let their child into the driver’s seat has felt exactly that way.”

 • A recurring theme was that ads don’t have to be expensively and slickly produced, or even look like what we conventionally think of as ads, to be effective.

An example: One reader likes the postcards from Lowe’s and Home Depot offering no or deferred interest on home-improvement purchases.

“These stores are smart to capitalize on the building downturn,” the reader noted. “Because we have not been able to get a construction loan to finish our new house, we have been building it with our retirement and Social Security money as we can afford it. ...

“Those postcards sure catch our attention.”

A Subaru driver mentioned receiving newsletters from the car company. “The latest mail I got from them gave me three choices about where they should spend their charitable funds this year. How cool is that!”

Your business columnist has long maintained that the most effective and widely read form of advertising will never win awards for design: The grocery store ad with coupons and the week’s specials. In how many households are those circulars and inserts pulled and pored over to compile the week’s menus and shopping list?

At least one reader agrees. “The most effective ad for me, considering print, TV, radio, and Internet, is the newspaper ad from Albertsons when they contain the three coupons to double the manufacturer’s coupons.”

The reader also goes through the RedPlum and SmartSource coupon fliers, although he’s mainly interested in those coupons offering at least a dollar off a single item. “This combination brings me in to Albertsons on a regular basis, although I know they are not the least expensive place to shop, even with coupons – but I can’t resist when there is the possibility that I can get $2.00 off of a single item.”

 • Readers constantly mention how they largely tune out ads. Wrote one, “I rarely even notice all the pop-ups around my screen anymore other than to realize I am tagged and targeted, and most commercials are bathroom breaks.”

Unless, of course, the ads are so annoying or unpleasant that they catch their attention (and usually it’s the unpleasant ads whose sponsors’ names stick in their brains).

That poses a challenge to advertisers: Can you cut through the clutter without resorting to obnoxiousness?

One reader believes advertisers aren’t doing a good job at resolving that puzzle: “I would hope to see sponsors writing ads that illustrate good manners. Respect for others, providing knowledge. Not teaching kids to be sassy, disrespectful toward adults and always knowing more than their parents. ... Ads could teach correct speech, how to use ‘please,’ (and) ‘thank you.’”

 • Here’s an upset: Only one mention of Geico among all the responses, surprising given the number and variety of ads the insurer runs. Time to retool the campaigns?

Good work, readers, and thanks for your insights and observations.

Bill Virgin is editor and publisher of Washington Manufacturing Alert and Pacific Northwest Rail News. He can be reached at