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Boring! The 11 Most Overused Creative Themes in Marketing

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Boring! The 11 Most Overused Creative Themes in Marketing

Boredom1-230x300A fresh creative concept is crucial for effective advertising and a smart marketing strategy.

But too many advertising and marketing campaigns recycle the same, tired creative themes and copy phrases over and over and over.

This is more than annoying. It’s a guaranteed audience turn-off and a misuse of the marketer’s resources.

Here’s the 2011 edition of my annual list of the most overused creative themes in marketing. Sadly, many appeared on last year’s list, too, which underscores my point about their overuse.

How many do you recognize?

  1. Got _________? You probably do, because just about everyone else does.
  2. You need a ______ that works as hard as you do.  And you need a marketing agency with a better ideas.
  3. It’s that time of year again: ______________ Oh no, is it? I hate that time of year.
  4. [I am/we are] ___________. Yeah, and so is every other marketer who uses this theme.
  5. The best just got better! It did? Again?
  6. _______ you can believe in. And a marketing team you can’t.
  7. When is a ________ [more than/not] a ____________? When everyone else says the same thing.
  8. _________, so you don’t have to. Should I be thanking you?
  9. [Making/building/creating] a better ______, one ______at a time. Unfortunately, this often doesn’t apply to marketing campaigns.
  10. ______never [had it/tasted/looked/sounded, etc.] so good. Well, never since the last time, anyway.
  11.  _______ doesn’t get any better than this. It doesn’t? Really?

What to Do if Your Campaign is on This List

If you’re using one of these themes in your marketing campaigns, it’s time for a new creative approach and maybe a new creative team.

Look for a marketing agency or creative consultant with a solid track record of developing new ideas that get attention and deliver a high-impact message. Your marketing team should be able to demonstrate how their creative approaches supported a marketing strategy and achieved the marketer’s objectives. They also should be excited about the challenge of coming up with something completely new for your marketing plan.

If not – or if you see any of these tired, old themes in the marketing campaigns in their portfolio – that’s your clue to look elsewhere.

Add Yours to the List

Do you agree that these 11 overused creative themes should be sent into retirement? Which ones would you add to the list?

23 Comments
  • Julie Ladd

    So true! I would also include “______ done right,” and “______ that works,” which also don’t say much if anything.

    These ideas are so pervasive at this point that you can’t help but think of them first, but a good marketer will discard them without a second thought like the first foam off a newly-tapped beer keg. If it’s the first thing that comes to your mind, it’s probably also the first thing that occurs to everyone else, and that’s the first sign of an idea that’s past its prime.

    The whole point is to come up with the NEXT concepts that will be this catchy, not to rehash these (again) after they’ve already lost any meaning.

    Great post.

    March 15, 2011 at 3:44 pm
  • BrianF

    “Call now, supplies are limited!”, or “Hurry, this offer expires after ______________.”

    Everyone knows darn well that you’re not going to run out — or turn down an order that comes in after your deadline.

    Creating a false sense of urgency (a false sense of anything for that matter) will only serve to make it clear to customers that you don’t really care about them . . . try honesty, it’ll set you FREE and it’ll bring you customers.

    March 16, 2011 at 10:18 am
  • The Money Drain

    Is it sad that I can think of companies for almost all of these examples? 🙂

    May 28, 2011 at 12:43 pm
  • Philippa Steward

    I can’t abide the use of the word “leading” when describing a company or product. [i.e. the UK’s leading_______.] Anything or anyone can be “leading” even if it’s just the number of times the MD scratched his nose or the product has received the largest number of complaints. It’s miss-leading.

    May 29, 2011 at 11:45 am
  • KarlK

    Why is it that everything is now an “event”? It’s a car sale event, a weather event, a garden event, a furniture clearance event, etc. I think I’m having a short-of-patience event.

    May 30, 2011 at 7:20 pm
  • John Bowen

    “All new!” No it isn’t.

    Thanks for the post and for raising a smile.

    September 12, 2011 at 1:21 am
  • Rina Liddle

    How about 10 reasons why / 6 steps / 8 of the worst / 11 worst, etc. Boring titles!

    January 25, 2012 at 6:10 am
  • cj

    Very good adittions to your list, thanks for that! It really should not be too difficult to find creative marketing templates these days on line. I recently found a new program <a href="onlinepetneeds.com/" that you might enjoy

    September 21, 2012 at 3:25 pm
  • John Bailo

    Verbs as a nouns…Eats like a meal…do they do that any more?

    September 20, 2013 at 6:46 am
  • Robin

    We’re number 1!

    September 25, 2015 at 12:47 am
  • Dave C.

    After 6 years the list is still valid. UNFORTUNATELY.
    I’d add “best-selling”. to the list. Greatest number Of sales? I suspect not Or they would have used that instead.
    Every car commercial seems to use that–it no longer Distinguishes the useR (did it ever?)

    July 17, 2017 at 11:48 am
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