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Bad Advertising – Ziba, What Were You Thinking?

If you’re like me you look for marketing lessons — both good and bad — wherever you go. Sometimes I see marketing that is so bad, that sharing them with you would be instructive… because you’ll clearly see how NOT to build your marketing campaigns, whether online or offline. So I am introducing a new […]

If you’re like me you look for marketing lessons — both good and bad — wherever you go.

Sometimes I see marketing that is so bad, that sharing them with you would be instructive… because you’ll clearly see how NOT to build your marketing campaigns, whether online or offline.

So I am introducing a new series that I will simply call Bad Advertising. And I already have our first case study.

And over the next few days we’re going to break down and reveal the pitfalls that this Bad Advertising case study has fallen into, and how you can avoid them.

That being said, let’s start with a brief re-introduction to our style of marketing.

As online direct response marketers we are the black sheep of the advertising world.

We walk a solitary path because our methods WORK and we can prove it, unlike the rest of the advertising culture that relies on image based, witty, and "creative" ads, that may look good, but they don’t do one, slightly important thing…

They don’t SELL!

There’s no science in their search, and you can’t TRACK their results.

Heaven forbid you hold yourself accountable for the outcome of a marketing campaign in that world.

Whereas in our world, accountability is the code we live by, our samurai equivalent of bushido. We need to know how many dollars we get back for every dollar we invest.

You’d think it was common sense, right? Well it’s not…

I was walking through my local, upscale mall the other day and witnessed a marketing campaign that was so incredibly bad that I had to share it with you as an example of what NOT to do.

And remember when I refer to the word "ad" in these examples, I want you to know that "ad" means anything from your email messages, landing pages, or any correspondence you have with your prospects and customers.

This is an offline example.

Here’s the first ad I saw as I strolled towards the Food Court: 

Photo_110807_006.JPG

Now I’m not sure if you can see this picture too clearly but the headline says…

"Experience the Ziba Way…"

The first thing that pops in my mind is, "what the heck is the ‘Ziba Way’ and how does it affect/benefit ME?"

Since this brilliant (and expensive looking) display ad didn’t answer either question I simply passed by without another thought.

Granted, there was a picture of a pretty woman on the right, but nothing else held my attention, except for the fact that it was an incredibly bad ad.

Money down the drain, Ziba. 

Lesson #1 – Who is your prospect and how can your product or service benefit her?

A vague, unclear headline message like the one above is doubly dangerous because it doesn’t clearly determine who the TARGET MARKET is, nor what Ziba can DO for you (if the market can figure out that it IS the target market).

Like I talk about in Prospect X-Ray (http://www.ProspectXRay.com) you have to know your customer BEFORE you create your product, then make sure your message speaks directly to her deepest fears, desires, and passions.

Your target market should look at your ad and say, "Hey… that’s for ME!"

This particular ad did none of this.

You see, it’s critical that you don’t buy into your own hype. You can’t be so absorbed in your own product, propaganda, and promises, that you begin to make assumptions about your prospects that you wouldn’t otherwise make.

Ziba automatically makes the assumption that we know what "threading" is. Well, unless you are very in tune with the hair removal industry, I’m betting that the word "threading" is as foreign to you as it is to me.

So Ziba assumes that either:

  1. You already know what threading is

Or…

  1. You will be so curious about what "threading" is, that you’ll actually scour the mall to figure out what it means

Let me ask you something. In your experience, are people sold THAT easily? Can you throw around random words and expect prospects to beat a path to your door, credit cards extended, cash in hand, curious to figure out what you really mean?

I think not.

So when you are creating your ads, really think about where your prospect IS, and where you want to lead them.

Start where they are.

How much of an expert is your prospect on the subject matter you’re talking to them about?

If you are placing an ad where there are sure to be a lot of novices, DON’T ASSUME THEY’LL UNDERSTAND INDUSTRY JARGON.

If Ziba were targeting a market that clearly understood what "threading" was, then MAYBE they could start talking about how they don’t just thread, they take "threading to an art form." Do you understand the point here?

Don’t make assumptions about what your prospects do and don’t know. Take the time to think about it, do your research, and stack the deck in your favor.

It’s what separates us from the rest of the advertising world.

To Your Success,

 

Mark Widawer

P.S. – This is just ONE of the ads that Ziba had placed around the mall, and there are some more, disastrous, yet instructive lessons to be taken from them. Talk to you soon…

12 replies on “Bad Advertising – Ziba, What Were You Thinking?”

You say: “We walk a solitary path because our methods WORK and we can prove it, unlike the rest of the advertising culture that relies on image based, witty, and “creative” ads, that may look good, but they don’t do one, slightly important thing…”

Really? For 150 years direct response advertisers have measured their results. I have been doing it for 50 years myself.

Why do online people imagine the world began the minute the internet was born?

“Those who ignore the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them” – Santayana

Hi Mark

A nice idea to share BAD advertising with us but may I suggest you go a little further and turn this around with an example of what a GOOD ad would be, using the same bad ad and all the comments you’ve made as to why it’s a bad ad.

In this way, I believe we’ll learn even more.

Hi Mark,

Your analysis of why this is bad is very helpful. It is one thing to spot a poor campaign, but another to draw lessons from it. Thanks. I wonder if Ziba will now ask their advertizing agency for a refund?!

Steve

WELL THE ZIBA PEOPLE MUST’VE BEEN IN THE ASSUME MODE. YES ASSUME STANDS FOR “ASS OUT OF U AND ME”. GOOD EYE ON THE BAD AD.

Good point, Mark. It’s always amazing to see how many people have got money to throw away; and I wish I had the nerve their ad agency people must have!

What about the case of an enterprise with a lot of funds and no brand image, though – maybe a new product on the market. In this case, they might perhaps be able to afford to scatter these meaningless ads around in order to subliminally reinforce their brand strength. Ziba? Means nothing to me. So they do seem to need some brand weight here.

Of course, that doesn’t apply to most of us, luckily. or we might get a reputation for lousy ads. And, in any discussion of dismal failure such as this, we ought to mention the timeless efforts of WebPagesThatSuck.com – check out all the architects’ sites on there to see some *really* pointless marketing. You’ll laugh so much your ribs will hurt.

Hi Mark,
Your comments on the Ziba campaign are well-taken.

FYI — I think “threading” is actually a non-surgical facelift technique, also referred to pejoratively as the “barbed-wire” process. (You REALLY don’t want to know the details.) Women who are into cosmetic surgery would know exactly what the ad is talking about. But it’s still a stupid ad.

Indeed Mark, these pseudo-intellectual ads are everywhere. Their target market must be people with disoriented minds (druggies?).

From Google search: “Ziba is an internationally recognized design consultancy that helps companies create meaningful ideas, designs and experiences that consumers crave. …”
(Really? I see better ads on the rear-ends of taxis.)

No thanks, Ziba. I’ll make my own mistakes.

C. W. Peavy, Las Vegas, NV

Mark …

What can I say after I say I’m sorry?!
Threading?
I thought for certain that “threading” had everything to do with SEWING … not hair removal!
I wholeheartedly agree with your perspective on this sad attempt at an ad campaign.
I’m no expert, but I can predict with 100% accuracy that a great deal of money was spent needlessly on Ziba’s grand opening!

Many small companies (& marketers) look at the ad campaigns of huge multi-national companies (like McDonald’s & Coke) and think that they can use the same vague taglines and get the same results. What they fail to realize is that companies like McDonald’s and Coke have been building their brands for decades. So they can run an ad with a tagline like “I’m lovin’ it”, because people already have intimate knowledge of the brand.

What they also fail to miss is that there is copy and descriptive imagery that accompanies that tagline: close-up shots of their food, a voiceover that talks about feeding your hunger with their latest burger, etc. So there isn’t only a catchy tagline–even the big boys still remind their customer base of why they should continue to buy their product.

I think too many marketers think if they build flashy looking ads with trendy taglines, that they will experience the same success. They need a history lesson!

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