How To Pointlessly Burn Your Advertising Money

A few weeks ago I wrote a popular marketing blog post on how to commit small marketing suicide.  In the post I said that a big marketing mistake small business owners make is to copy the advertising of big corporations (also known as big dumb corporations).

A couple of days ago I was reading the British business magazine Management Today, when I came across this Audi advert.

Audi Advert

The advert is a two-page spread with the following copy:

Headline: The new Audi A8. No detail is too small.

Body: The sculpted gear lever feels as impressive as it looks.  Its flat paddle design supports your wrist when you’re writing on the MMI touchpad.  And because the 8 speed transmission is integrated with the sat nav, it selects the right gear for the road ahead.  In short, everything at your fingertips, from the gear you are in, to the music you’re into.  For more details visit

Needless to say, I don’t think the advert is very good.  The advertising ROI on the ad must be really low.  A two page spread with only one paragraph of copy?  It’s crazy! If you’re going to take two pages, use the whole space for good copy, and work hard on selling your product.  Two whole pages just to show off the gear box?  Really??

To emphasise the point I made in the previous blog post, we small and medium sized business owners should not copy this type of advertising.  The big companies have the financial power, and often the reputation – but not always – to do well despite bad marketing.

A closer look at the ad

So what’s wrong with the ad?  Here’s what I think was done poorly.  First, I don’t like the headline too much, as it does not portray a benefit.  It does not grab my attention nor does it compel me to read the rest of the copy.  Second, there is way too little copy considering how much space they’ve used up.  The copy itself is not bad actually. It does a good job of translating features into benefits, which many car adverts don’t do.  Here’s a more detailed analysis:

– “The sculpted gear lever (feature) feels as impressive (benefit- and a kinesthetic one at that)…”

– “Its flat paddle design (feature) supports your wrist (benefit) when you’re writing on the MMI touchpad (feature)”

– Good use of the word “because”, a powerful hypnotic word.  For more on this see my article on persuasion secrets.

– “The 8 speed transmission is integrated with the sat nav (feature), it selects the right gear for the road ahead (benefit, but more a feature).

–  “Everything at your fingertips (benefit), from the gear you are in (feature), to the music you’re into (benefit)”

Like I said, the copy is good, but not enough of it.  Also, there is no offer.  Why should I visit the site?  Imagine your prospect sitting comfortably on his sofa, tired after a long hard day at the office, enjoying his afternoon tea.  You need to give him a compelling reason to get off his back side, walk to his laptop or desktop (assuming he doesn’t have an iPad or other wireless device next to him) and checkout your website.  A free offer of some sort maybe, or a gift voucher. Something!

Also, if I had been given this ad to write, I’d have made the photo much smaller, and used much more benefit-oriented copy.  Giving the gear so much attention is just pointless.  It exemplifies what is wrong with the advertising industry today, where the graphic designer is given more importance than the copywriter.  A problem recognised by the great advertising king himself David Ogilvey (one of my advertising heros) over 40 years ago.

Furthermore (wow, I actually used the word “furthermore”) surely an ad for a car as great as the A8 should actually show the car! It’s a beautiful car, and the ad does not do it justice at all.  I’d show the car in the main photo, and mention the gear lever in the copy, maybe with a smaller photo and a caption.

So, remember my friend you need to SELL in your ads, not show off and display photos, otherwise you’ll be pointlessly wasting your advertising money.  There is a saying among direct-response copy writers: “white space never sold anything”, meaning that every available space in the ad should be used to sell the product.  For more explanations on the basics of selling listen to my radio interview entitled How to Sell Anything to Anyone.

To get loads of FREE marketing and entrepreneurial advice, visit

Thanks for taking the time to read this and talk to you soon.

4 Responses to How To Pointlessly Burn Your Advertising Money

  1. Osman Safdar 3 July 2010 at 2:55 pm #

    Nice article…. the furthermore part was funny 😀

  2. Ice 8 July 2010 at 12:34 am #



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