Mind the crap

We had our weekly ‘show and tell’ in the studio on Monday.

Our intern brought in this. He considers it the worst ad on the London tube. If only it were, It’s bad, but there are worse.


But what it is, is unforgivable.

Here we have a brand like Barclaycard. Not exactly new to direct response marketing. Not exactly short of a bob or two and armed with detailed segmentation and consumer profiling and insights.

And all we get is Balls. Big balls.

And I bet (hope) they had better creative presented. But they chose this.

Being a bank, a dozen people have dissected every word, every component part and every variation on composition. It’s been up and down the approval chain half a dozen times… through marketing, brand, sales, legal… and then someone has finally said “Great, it’s good to go”.


I mean, do you get what it is they are offering? I asked our FD what 0% on balance transfers means and she tried to sound knowledgeable, but in the end had to hazard a guess.

So instead of a clear and compelling offer that I want to act on… and there is a great offer (0% interest for 25 months on new purchases), Jesus, you have to work to get it.

There are rules to getting superior direct response, especially if you listen to guru’s like Steve Harrison. They go, from memory, like this;

  1. Arresting Relevance
  2. Problem solution dynamic
  3. Competitive persuasion
  4. Call to action

The other thing that those who know their craft (and marketing it is a craft, not an ‘art’) tell us are to always bear in mind ‘Zero Net Gain’… you cannot add an element without detracting from another.

Then ask any vaguely competent creative or art-director and they’ll be quick to point out when an image is complementing or distracting from the copy or vice-versa.

So if you applied the above basics to this execution it would look and feel and talk in a completely different, much simpler, far more compelling way.

And it would start with a brief that says;

“Most people use their credit card for £XXXX worth of purchases a month. If they move from their current card to us they will save a whopping £XXX… let’s dramatise that fact in very real/fun ways with what they could do with their money and explain how simple it is to do.”

So, I don’t know what happened but here’s a few likely scenarios;

  1. It was done in house.
  2. It was briefed to an agency who doesn’t know the rules by someone who doesn’t know them either
  3. It was briefed to an agency who does know the rules by someone who doesn’t and the balls were his/her idea.

Hopefully, the piss-poor results likely to come in from this campaign (and it’s plastered all over the tube) will get someone to think “we need a rethink”.

Unless of course they only KPI is measuring it against the very low-bar of all the stuff that sits next to it.

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