Friday, May 22, 2009

Intel Flops With Its "Playground" Ad

In this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated I found a very confusing print ad placed by Intel. They got a great placement on the left side of the second page and then decided to vomit all over it. The ad conveys nothing to the consumer. The images of a soccer player and the scientist have no tie in. The copy at the bottom of the ad does nothing to give the reader any insights into what Intel is trying to say; it actually offends the reader.

There is a lot of discussion on what advertising should say and do for a company. The one thing that everyone agrees with is that advertising needs to convey some point to the reader. It has to say something about your company that the person reading will find interesting and remember. This ad just doesn’t do that. The only thing I learn by looking at the layout is that the scientist and the soccer player have different playgrounds. Yes, that is very apparent to everyone. Does this mean that Intel scientists can’t play soccer? Does this mean that soccer players can’t be scientist or even enjoy science as a hobby?

The separate images of the soccer player and Intel scientist have no tie in. There is nothing that connects the two images beyond the forced “playground” lines. They should have used a common element between the two to make the tie in. Have the soccer player calculating the precise angle needed to make the goal. Have the scientist figuring out some statistics to give a soccer team an advantage. Anything would have been better than throwing a soccer player on a field into the ad just to make it “relevant” to Sports Illustrated.

One of the best assets of print advertising in a magazine is the chance to capture a static audience. If you can develop an advertisement that is interesting and attention grabbing you have the consumer for as long as they want to stay on your page. You also have the ability to explain your product and its attributes in more detail. The body copy of this ad, while well written, doesn’t tell the reader anything. It tells the reader they have a lot of employees with PhDs and that those employees all share the language of math. That’s great, but what does it do for the reader? It doesn’t tell the reader how Intel will make their life better. It doesn’t tell the reader that Intel will make their computer run faster or their cell phone get better reception. There is nothing holding the reader to this ad. There is no benefit for the consumer.

Even the call to action is weak and meaningless. “Learn more at”? Learn more? You didn’t tell the reader anything other than you have a lot of smart employees. You better have smart employees. What is the reader going to learn at this website? Is the reader going to learn more about your smart employees? After reading this entire print ad, the reader has no idea what Intel does or why they should be interested in what Intel does. They haven’t created a need or desire to go to this website.

I left this part for last because it melts my brain. A general rule of thumb is that it’s not a good idea to insult your audience. The line “your playground isn’t like our playground” is pretty harmless. Pointing out that the soccer player and the scientist “play” in different venues is fine. Then you combine it with the first line of the body copy and you feel insulted. “Needless to say, our people aren’t afraid to use a calculator”. Does that mean the soccer player is afraid of a calculator? Now some people might think I’m being a little nit picky with this, but if this ad offends even one person it is a horrible use of Intel’s advertising budget.

What do you think about this print ad? Have you ever seen another ad that does so little?


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