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Rookie is actually a loaded word, as many of the mistakes listed here are still being made by so-called industry veterans. But, whether you’re in college, your first job, or have a few years under your belt, here are seven mistakes you should not be making.
Of course, there are exceptions to every point made on this list, but they are usually bested by people with incredible skill and a ton of experience.
7 Rookie Advertising Mistakes:
1) Puns Are For Suckers:
The first, and easiest, way for a copywriter or creative team to solve a problem is with puns. To clarify, a pun is a play on words; usually based on similar sounding words or phrases. For instance a pet store may have a sign saying “birds going cheap,” or a car dealership says “we’re driving down prices.” This is not clever copywriting, it is scraping through the bottom of a well-scraped barrel.
If you ever consider yourself to be the world’s best pun writer, consider leaving advertising for a different profession; perhaps a 1970s comedian.
You May want to check: 6 Essential Advertising Tasks Guide
2) Never Start An Idea With The Media:
This is a trap far too many young creative teams fall into. Sometimes, very rarely, it pays off. Usually, it’s very clear that the team wanted to do a big billboard or cool website takeover, and then backed into it with a campaign. This is lazy and, more importantly, it doesn’t serve the client’s best interests.
The ideas you have should come from the brief and the product, and the media will naturally present itself in the natural course of ideation. “Hey, let’s do a massive 3D billboard” is not a good start. Not at all.
3) Use Celebrities With Care
Whether in front of the camera, or behind, it’s way too easy to take advantage of the fame that comes with a celebrity. “I’ve got a great idea…let’s get Quentin Tarantino to direct the spot” is not a great idea. Similarly, “Let’s have Quentin star in our ad” is also not an idea. It’s an execution.
Now, if the ad clearly warrants it, then you’re on solid ground. But if you’re doing it to leech off of the celebrity’s fame, you’re falling into the execution-over-idea trap.
Also, Read: 7 Overused Advertising Words To Use Carefully
4) You Cannot Assume That People Read Ads
The late, great Howard Gossage said “The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.” That was said decades ago, and it is even more true today.
You cannot simply expect people to pay attention to your ad. They don’t know, or care, that you may have spent months putting it together. They don’t give a hoot that the photo shoot cost $150k. They will read it, or engage with it, if they find it interesting. Your first, and greatest, responsibility to your client is to get them noticed. Only then can you start to convince people to buy the product or service.
5) MUST Know Your Audience
Demographics in creative briefs are simply a guideline. You cannot sit down and start writing for 35-50 year old African America males who earn between $40-$80k per year. That’s not how advertising works. You cannot picture that person in your head. You cannot convince him to buy something.
Visualize your target (Focus Group), What’s his name, where does he live, what’s on his playlist, what’s his favorite food, where does he like to go on vacation, and what does he do to relax? You got him? Can you imagine sitting down and having an honest conversation with him? Good, now you have a target audience.
6) One-Offs Are Lazy
You may have a great idea for an ad. It may be a fantastic piece of advertising. But, on its own, it will struggle to perform. You need to develop a campaign, so that this great ad has the support of other great ads. And, as all boats rise with the tide, so too make more people engage with a complete campaign. ask these questions; Does the idea work in digital and social? Is it good on a billboard, and on TV? If it is a one-off, it is not advertising…it’s spec work.
7) Ignoring Copy is Suicidal
Although the trend is slowly going in the other direction, largely thanks to social media, copy is still not being given the respect it deserves.
An ad’s primary goal is to sell something. Yes, it can entertain, shock, be thought provoking, and even incite strong reactions. But at the end of the day, an ad should draw you in and then, close the sale. The latter can only be done with words. You are never going to buy anything on the back of a snappy headline and a pretty picture. Do the hard work, it will pay off.