By Alex Overland
Get Together, Tear it Apart
My grandfather is an architect. While I was home over the holidays, I heard an interesting anecdote about him: any time he went for walks, he would critique buildings he walked past. He’d pretty much always have something to say about how a building could be improved, or how someone had been sloppy with details. How rude, picking apart someone’s home, which is for many something they take pride in!
I do the same, only with ads.
I’ve always done this to some degree, but it feels like since about halfway through last term, I notice these things more often. Some things are small, like an excessive word in a fiveword tagline. Others are bigger: the placement of an insurance ad referring to airplane crashes placed in an airport is unfortunate. As a copywriter, I was stoked to spot text positioned off-grid on a restaurant menu. Obviously, these details generally don’t make a difference to the average pair of eyeballs, but it’s good to be picky, because you never know when consumers become aware of it and react, like with the MND Association’s Ice Bucket follow-up this summer.
It’s good to know others get a hung up on details in advertising as I do, that if I mentioned this to them, instead of responding with “So what?” they might say “Yes, and…”
There’s something to be said for “it’s easier to take apart than to build”, but I feel like dissecting is a big part of learning to build something good. Until the students are ready to become professionals, they study the work of others. It’s a nice exercise to try and reverse engineer other ads to identify exactly what works, and what doesn’t.