Editorial: Feds’ PSA follows tenets of good advertising

Every now and then a piece of advertising comes along that makes the students of this truly fascinating communications form sit back and take stock.A 90-second commercial now running on Cineplex Odeon screens is a case in point.The spot has one...

Every now and then a piece of advertising comes along that makes the students of this truly fascinating communications form sit back and take stock.

A 90-second commercial now running on Cineplex Odeon screens is a case in point.

The spot has one simple objective: to get youngsters who might be thinking of leaving school prematurely to reconsider this decision. And without even a hint of sermonizing, the commercial suggests that an education creates options and freedom of choice.

This is the second time that the federal government has gone to the movie theatre with this message. As with the first effort launched two years ago, this commercial should be noticed and absorbed by the people to whom it is aimed.

And it seems destined to accomplish its task because it has followed the basic tenets of good advertising – and indeed, good marketing – really get to know who you are talking to and treat these people with respect.

Granted, this commercial does not have to labor within the tight and restrictive confines of packaged goods products. And, yes, it is not accountable to year-end sales projections.

Principles still the same

But the principles are still the same, whether the advertiser is a government agency attempting to tackle an issue of broad societal concern, or the marketer of a consumer product attempting to convey a product benefit to a target market.

Recently, Strategy was invited to help in the judging of the Ad Rodeo awards show in Calgary. We were asked to give our notion of what makes good advertising at a luncheon gathering. Those comments seem appropriate here:

‘There is a very good reason why advertising continues to be described as a people industry.

‘Because for all of the talk about new technology – imagine, a 500-channel television service, full interactivity, digital compression, the convergence of computers, telephones and tv sets, fibre optic cables capable of transmitting the entire contents of the Encyclopedia Brittanica in one second, cd-roms, the cross-pollination of databases, a worldwide web of about 30 million people connected by their own personal computers, not to mention the vast fragmentation already in place within conventional media – yes, for all of that, advertising is still, essentially a process of human contact.

‘An advertising creative person, or a team, connecting with a consumer.

‘The entry point may be through the heart – with a laugh or a tear – or it can be through the intellect – with an argument so compelling that it cannot be avoided – but the entry must be made, and the contact secured.

‘Only people can do that. People who understand each other…

‘… No advertising will amount to anything unless it can make genuine contact with the actual people – not some abstract numbers in a marketing plan – for whom these messages may be intended.

‘Good advertising is all about making relevant human connections. Whether the advertising is great, probably depends on how deeply that connection is made, and how long it lasts.

‘Good advertising is not about bigness and pushiness and extravagance. It’s about those little things. The look in a child’s eye, the thrill of a personal triumph, the sounds of a melody that still brings goosebumps to the flesh.

‘The tiny things you never forget.

‘It’s all about people.

Yes, the world is a complicated place, but maybe that’s because we make it so.