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I may be missing ... here, but it seems to me that, ... terms, the loonies have taken over the asylum. Whatis getting me all lathered up is the ... of ... that go

I may be missing something, here, but it seems to me that, in
advertising terms, the loonies have taken over the asylum. What
is getting me all lathered up is the preponderance of TV
commercials that go out of their way, not only to confuse their
target audience, but also to project an alarming image of their

I'll elaborate. The first example is the sad, but fortunately
short story of a current tv spot for a company called Debenhams.
Now, Debenhams is a large UK department store which has branches
in many major cities throughout the country. As such, it has an
excellent reputation and an enviable turnover.

Well, this outfit is running a commercial which has two distinct
scenes. The first shows a man sitting in a room at a table, and
beside him is a back-projection of a pond. As he sweeps an object
off the table and into the pond, we see ripples in the water. The
second scene is of a young girl in a room and the back projection
is of some trees, each carrying a profusion of autumn leaves. As
the girl moves around the room, the leaves begin to fall.

So far so good; and as an exercise in special effects this spot
is exemplary, because the last thing you'd expect to see in your
living room is a pond or a stand of trees.

Anyway, we are now treated to a voice-over which says, to the
effect, that if you drop into Debenhams you'll find lots more of
the same. My question is: the same what? Throughout this
commercial, we are not actually told what it is we are being

I assume it is wallpaper, but I could be wrong - it might be
personal back projection.

The second example concerns a new computer from Apple-Mac. The
spot opens with an explosion and a man being thrown against a
tree. The camera then tracks towards a house, in the side of
which is a gaping hole. The camera continues through into the
house, showing us debris falling all around and large holes in
the walls of successive rooms. We finally track towards a
computer, and the voice-over says something like: Introducing the
fastest, most powerful computer in the Mac stable.

The message I interpret from this is that the new Apple-Mac is so
powerful it explodes. Not only that, it will probably reduce your
home to rubble.

Oh, yeah, I must rush out and buy one of those.

Am I alone in thinking that these two commercials, despite their
huge production values, are less than clever? On the one hand,
the advertiser neglects to tell us what it is that he's trying to
sell. On the other, we have a product that is reminiscent of
Mission Impossible and self-destructs when you switch it on.

Given all of this, I'd like to pose a question. When the
respective ad agencies presented the storyboards for these
commercials to their clients, did nobody on the client side raise
a query or two? Like: since we're spending all this money,
shouldn't we at least say what we're offering? Or: is it really a
sensible idea to associate our computers with explosions?

Of course, it could be that I am missing some wonderful new
marketing strategy that will shortly be revealed and will make me
look extremely foolish. Though I doubt it. And I doubt it because
I saw a beer commercial the other day (Stella Artois, I think),
in which a man on a balcony actually spat on the people below.
You have to be a very brave advertiser -or a very stupid one -to
ally your product to this kind of imagery. And this crudity seems
to be more and more prevalent.

I leave you to ponder all of this. Meanwhile, you'll do no better
than visit There, you'll find an e-book that
could make your working life a whole lot easier. It contains
close to 200 ready-made headlines, taglines, copy openers and
clinchers, plus a comprehensive theme-finder that will give you
just about every promotional word and phrase you'll ever need.

It's called Word Power III. Buy it and every word you writeFree Reprint Articles, will

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Patrick Quinn is a copywriter, with 40 years' experience of the
advertising business in London, Dublin, Edinburgh and Miami.
Over the years, he has helped win for his clients just about
every advertising award worth winning
His published books, include:
The Secrets of Successful Copywriting.
The Secrets of Successful Low Budget Advertising.
The Secrets of Successful Exhibitions.
Word Power.

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