Saturday, November 26, 2005

Validate Me. Please.

A week or so, this ad popped up in Newsweek. It's a double-page ad from American Express touting their new card-product that deposits money into a savings acount every time the holder spends.

This ad illustrates the advertisers perspective on their customers - they are unable to control their lives.

Marketing-wise, the product is a dumb idea, but that's not the point of this post. This is about something dumber - the ad itself.

Poor mother - she wants to buy her kid everything he wants, but somehow can't. Perhaps she's not celebrity-rich. Perhaps she's a bad mother. Perhaps that damnable house payment is spoiling the fun.

And then there's the kid. He won't save. He just won't SAVE! Meds won't work...and there's that unstoppable force called TV...he'll die - yes, die - if he doesn't have all that glorious, life-giving "stuff."

This is called "Learned Helplessness" and its a tactic taught by advertisers world-wide. It's wrong, it's uncreative and it's harmful.

Notice the copy assumes the mother has no options. NO OPTIONS. The only solution is the Amex Card - which, ironically, will not teach her son to save, nor will it get her everything her son sees on television.

I hate this kind of junior-grade copy/creative and so should you.

Amex could have had an effective ad with a completely different take on the card. Since the "savings" is really the same rebate-crapola that Discover™ pioneered 15 years ago, call it what it is and tout the benefits:

How about this -

"Finally, a credit card that saves money. Literally!"

"Instead of racking up points, how about racking up dollars?"


"I just opened a savings account for my son while I was buying his school-clothes."


In the meantime, tell the kid to get a job.