Friday, December 22, 2006

"You'll Shoot Your Friends Out, You'll Shoot Your Friends, Out..."

In the pre-Christmas shopping spirit, the above ad is an actual ad touting a Mattel Toys M-16 replica. It's real. But the product isn't manufactured or sold any more and hasn't been for about 40 years.

Other, more talented bloggers have already blogged about the cultural/societal implications of this advertisement, so I won't.

However, it's brilliant - both in layout, art direction and copy.

Such a pure layout - headline, illustration, copy, logo. You don't see ads like this any more. Nowadays, there's so much drivel about "branding" and "design" that today's adsmiths seem to forget people aren't consuming ads like art. They're looking for products to buy. This gem nails the necessary simplicity required for effective advertising.

The kid is a masterpiece of illustration. Yellow, "Mom bought me" pants, matching shirt & socks, white sneakers - he's timeless. I bet his name is Danny. Or Darren. Or Doug. But check the pose - the Viet Cong don't have a chance against his obviously practiced stance. But Danny doesn't mind the Commies as much as he admires his M-16. His paternal gaze upon his Marauder seems to indicate he's whispering, "That's the way, Champ - you know how to do it!" under the clatter of gun fire and spent brass casings.

But it's the copy that gives this ad its genius. No fewer than 13! Exclamation points! Ever listened to a 9 year old boy talk about something he likes? "Dad! Guess what! At school today, we caught a lizard! And Martin killed it! With his boots! It was gross! Wanna see it?! I brought it home!"

Pay attention to the subhead, "If you think this gun looks great, wait'll you hear it!" In one sentence, the copywriter mows-down every other toy gun made. The copywriter has defined the toy gun category by "great looks" and outstanding sound. You can't disagree with anything about this ad - kind of like when the slick car salesman slides up to you and points to the shiny machines in the lot and says, "Don't new cars look great?"

The closing paragraph is brilliant in its brevity and focus - "Get Mattel's new M-16 rifle. It's the greatest!"

"It's the greatest!"

And that's all we need to know. Oh, for a time machine to wind back to 1967 and peek into the homes of little boys on Christmas morning.

"BRAAP BRRA-A-A-AP BRAP BRAP" "Isn't this great dad?!"