generic = the kiss of death

I was hanging out in a copywriting group the other day (what, doesn’t everyone nerd out over advertising? Just me? Shut up)… and got into an interesting discussion with a newer copywriter.

This person was tasked with writing a “generic” ad that could be “reskinned” and used for multiple businesses, with different owners, in multiple geographical areas, in the same field (automotive if you’re curious).

That’s all well and good – people need to buy and/or take care of their cars, and a lot of those same people don’t know where to start, so awareness is good.

However – the advertising medium of choice for this reskinned ad is Facebook. And that’s where I started looking kind like this chick:

It’s not that you can’t do generic. Or that you can’t advertise cars on Facebook. It’s that I don’t get why you’d want to essentially do a mass market campaign (think ad agencies with major commercials running on all the networks + Hulu + probably your bathroom mirror).

They get your attention because they are spending. serious. fucking. money.

It doesn’t matter if they’re kinda generic (though most of them actually aren’t) because they are EV-ER-Y-WHERE. Their jingles haunt your dreams.

The Facebook ads that catch my attention? They’re either super creative/viral/funny (i.e. not generic) or they’re tailored to my interests (hello Big Brother, nice pants!).

The rest, I ignore. Period. Scroll on by. It’s the equivalent of fast forwarding through the commercials (not to mention folks who are using ad blockers)… and you could spend outrageous sums of money for some nebulous “impression” count with very little to show for it in terms of results.

You know who can do generic? Dollar General. Walmart. Other big chains and retailers that buy low and sell low and it doesn’t really matter because they’ve got size and spending power on their side.

But no one goes to Walmart because they’re on a “Great Value” run.

“Gotta get me some of that Great Value mac-n-cheese yo!” said young broke stoners, only, ever.

That’s kinda how I feel about a generic ad that could be for any car, anywhere, any time.

So what? I still don’t like Walmart (the shopping experience leaves something to be desired), so I’m probably not gonna get my ass up to get the mac-n-cheese. There’s nothing urgent. Nothing specific. Hell, there’s nothing interesting about this.

And I don’t get why you’d want to spend a shit ton of money to plaster your ads everywhere only to have them blend in like the beigest of beiges.

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ANGIE COLEE

If you’re an aspiring freelancer who’s working up the courage to leave the day job… good news! I’m sharing all the things I WISH I’d known before making the leap so that hopefully your journey goes a little more smoothly than mine.

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