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4 Ad Clichés That Must Go

The cliché ad scenario. We all know it. We’ve probably pitched or even produced them sometime in our agency careers.
But, fellow creatives, it must stop. For the sake of consumers’ sanity and clients’ hard-paid dollars, we need to put a hard stop to ads that feel formulaic and tired. Here are four clichés that I’d put to rest:

  1. Auto dealers who yell. Culprit: Every auto dealer ever.
    Maybe it’s just the region I live in, but it seems that every single car dealership must shout their car slogans from the top of their lungs. Why?!? One New Jersey-based dealer, in particular, screams their phone number as their branding mechanism, ensuring that I will never, ever buy a car from them, if only because their phone number is more familiar to me than my own.And it’s not just in radio and TV ads. Take a look at your newspaper or a nearby billboard—it’s “screaming” at you—bold font, ALL CAPS, using up more than their fair share of exclamation points (!!!). For fun, maybe we should all use our indoor voices in these ads—and then maybe I’d consider your dealership when I need to replace my aging hand-me-down.
  1. Women in yogurt commercials. Culprits: Activia, Yoplait, Dannon.
    I don’t know about you, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat with two or three of my closest girlfriends, all eating yogurt, extolling the virtues of its creamy goodness while marveling at how few calories it really has and how good my digestive system feels because of it! (Oh, wait, yes, I can. Zero times.) Dear Celebrity Spokesperson: I don’t want to know how yogurt has kept you “regular.” These yogurt commercials have become so cliché that the uproarious (if not exactly PC) game Cards Against Humanity has an answer card that reads “Women in Yogurt Commercials.” Hands up if you know exactly what that connotes.
  1. The “Hey, didn’t we fool you?!” move. Culprits: Febreze, Walmart, among others.
    When the voiceover starts conspiratorially, “We stuck these people in a defrosted freezer filled with rotting meat—did they notice? Let’s get their reaction,” I feel like I’m Dr. Livingston watching the hunting-and-gathering habits of a rare species. “Don’t talk above a whisper,” the hushed announcer’s voice suggests, “Otherwise these unsuspecting fools will learn the secret!” Puh-lease. You know what my reaction would be if I found myself the “unwitting” participant in any of these stunts? Mild surprise. I really don’t believe participants are fooled—or these are especially dim-witted people doing the sniff tests. And Febreze, everyone knows that your primary use is to avoid doing laundry for as long as possible.
  1. Video game ads showing violent game footage against incongruously quiet or upbeat songs. Culprits: Nearly every video game released in recent memory.
    You’re watching TV, kinda paying attention. Suddenly, the din quiets and a soothing, eerie song comes out over the speakers. This must be something neat and mysterious! You look up from whatever you’re doing during commercials—playing Trivia Crack, burrowing through the fridge, texting—to see yet another video game ad. Oh, look, hyper-muscular figures stomping around terrain, shooting enormous guns at nameless enemies while the world around them burns in chaos. Yawn. Does every video game commercial need to have strangely quiet or upbeat songs to illustrate the dichotomy between the song and the violence-filled game play? It’s time to come up with a new tactic, guys.

Though I do see commercials that are challenging assumptions or just entertaining, these four ad tropes deserve a long rest in the advertising graveyard.

What do you think? Is there another ad cliché that deserves the axe?

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Search & Social Strategist

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