Took the Long Island Railroad to the city this morning. This little gem was on the train. The art direction was the first thing that caught my eye. Good work, art director. You did your job. The use of alternating with “Spoleto” and an all caps sans serif is nothing novel, but the type was arranged nicely, the opacity taken down slightly over a calming image. So good job art director. Now you have me.
Then I read it: “The Maine thing is no matter what you want, it’s kind of what Maine gives you that’s unexpected.”
Whoa. Let me read that again. Okay, still doesn’t make much sense. I think what they mean is “Maine gives you the unexpected.” First off, they could have just said that. Sure, the art director would have had less type to work with (sad) but people would have had less to read (good) and actually understood the message (essential).
But this ad didn’t stop at having a terribly-written headline. It went on to say “Have you discovered your Maine Thing yet? Visitmaine.com.” Oh, I get it. They’re doing a whole “discover your Maine thing” idea. Twist on words. Oh-so-clever. Not big enough to be all campaignable. Sorry guys. And then body copy?!!
Did these guys forget that the average Long Island Railroad Commuter brought an iPad, Kindle or Newspaper on with them? And those who didn’t are catching another 20 minutes of shuteye with headphones in their ears. The two-and-a-half seconds they accidentally gave you (perhaps because the art direction was nice) was all you had. And you blew it. Because when someone reads through that God-awful headline and realizes they don’t get it, you think they’re going to invest more time with you?
If you caught eyes with a pretty girl at a party you may walk over. Then let’s say she introduces herself by saying “How doing are you? The name I have is Rachel yes yep.” You’d probably be turned off and think something was wrong with the poor girl. See ya later, Rachel.
Same thing with an ad. We have to be super careful to develop and produce meaningful ads. Because it’s a lot to ask for someone to look at us. I mean, we’re trying to sell something. So if someone does take the time to look, we should give them something worth caring about. Or entertain them a bit.
This particular ad did no such thing. It was an art director’s dream, though. Lots of typography. Four photos. The logo and body copy are locked-up on a nice orangey banner. But wow. Long, boring headline. Word-twisting galore.
Now, right around now a number of you will be saying “Shloimy, it’s easy to say you don’t like it, but could you do any better?” Which is why I spent a few minutes writing the following headlines that would pair with a nice nature photo of Maine:
— Or you can keep riding this train to work everyday.
— Rivers and trees don’t have QR codes.
— Find yourself getting off track.
— Out here, no one comes by to punch your ticket.
I’m not saying any of these are super brill. But I do think they have thoughts or truths nestled in them. They’re definitely better than “The Maine thing is no matter what you want, it’s kind of what Maine gives you that’s unexpected.”
Know what I mean?