Marketers, Please Stop! 6 Creative Themes to Banish Forever

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Marketers, Please Stop! 6 Creative Themes to Banish Forever

Honda-CommercialIt was the Honda Presidents’ Day Sale TV spot that finally put me over the edge: Yet another marketing campaign with an overused creative concept that makes consumers roll their eyes and wonder what marketers and their agencies are smoking.

Why do so many marketers continue to develop ad campaigns that have no originality or insult the audience? Can’t we agree as agencies and marketers to stop the madness?

As a marketing consultant, I’m sure I speak for millions when I say I’ve had enough. Here are six marketing approaches I’ve seen far too many times and hope never to see again:

  1. Dead Presidents Selling Consumer Products: Washington and Lincoln are two of the greatest leaders in U.S. history. Unfortunately, both were born in February, so they share a tribute holiday, which has led countless marketers to use their caricatures to sell mattresses and cars. The Honda ad rises above the typical Presidents’ Day mediocrity, but what if they focused on the product instead of George and Abe singing and dancing? Is that too much to ask?
  2. Got Anything?Got Milk? was one of the best marketing campaigns of the 20th century but this concept was created 20 years ago. The whole “Got ___?” idea has been overused to the point of ridiculousness. I saw a fitness company ad using this theme yesterday. Let’s let the milk marketers keep their campaign concept and move on.
  3. _____ You Can Believe In: This marketing tagline has been used by banks, hospitals, doctors, presidential candidates, and nearly every other type of product or service marketer you can think of. If your marketing agency suggests this copy, fire them on the spot.
  4. One _____ at a Time: How many marketing campaigns have you seen that position the marketer as an organization making/building/creating/changing or doing something else one ____ at a time? It’s tired and trite. Ditch it.
  5. We _____, So You Don’t Have To: Just last week, I saw a web banner ad with this incredibly overused theme by a national auto insurer, one of the biggest marketers in America. There must be something else to try.
  6. You Need a ______ that Works as Hard as You Do: Your bank/truck/lawyer/investment advisor is a slacker who’s just not in your league when it comes to hard work. Aren’t you tired of working harder than those who are supposed to be working for you? And aren’t you tired of this ad concept?

Ask Your Ad Agency: Is this a Smart Marketing Strategy?

As a long-time marketing strategist in Cleveland who got started as an advertising copywriter, I have great empathy for creative teams at marketing agencies who strive to come up with original, engaging, and memorable concepts that support a client’s marketing and branding strategy.

But c’mon, guys: Can’t we do better than this? It’s time to clean out our marketing closets and get rid of the same, tired creative approaches that have been used in American advertising campaigns for decades or that insult the audience with their silliness.

Will you join me in my creative call to arms? Which campaign concepts would you like to send to the trash heap? 

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