Playing to your strengths…

It’s something we all should do, right? Especially in business, and even more so in marketing. Negative marketing and off-selling on others’ weaknesses is, in my opinion a poor way to build a brand. The only way it ever works is if you have a large budget and a very strong sense of humour.

I was picking up some bread and coffee on Saturday morning and saw this outdoor poster.

Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of Melway. I haven’t been without a current edition during my whole driving life. Also, with the exception of the most recent edition, I always sit down with my new Melway to read it from cover to cover to find out new things I didn’t know before about my town.

There are two reasons why I wanted to talk to this image though. Firstly, because I think it is probably the worst creative I have ever seen [well, maybe not the worst] and I think the only way it could have come to be is if someone who wasn’t normally in charge of writing or approving advertising creative developed and approved it. Why, you ask? Well, it’s simple. For those who don’t know, the Melway is a metropolitan street directory for Greater Melbourne. Now, Greater Melbourne happens to have very pervasive, if not complete, mobile data coverage so the premise that this directory is helpful where coverage is poor is, at best, poor creative. 

So now you see why I think this ad was created by the work experience kid. I would humbly suggest to the people at Melway [of whom I am a big fan] need to play to their strengths, making great street directories. If you are going to spend some money on billboards, engage a professional and let them play to their strengths and give you some good advice. Like a better tagline.

The other part of my first point would be that the ad itself breaks two of the primary rules of outdoor advertising. Seven words or less, and, one idea per poster. This one has 15 primary words [and more others] , and two competing ideas.

Secondly, in the ad itself they are not playing to their strengths. Melway is an institution in Melbourne. They are ubiquitous as “the street directory”. They should be playing to this point. We sat down this morning and came up with two very strong campaigns that play to these strengths and that I believe would have produced a better outcome. I would be happy to share these with those at Melway for free, in case someone sees this and is interested. Rather than having a crack at their competitors, Smartphone companies and GPS mapping providers and telephone networks, who are all magnitudes bigger than them and much richer, they should be playing to their strengths in a positive way.

You can achieve much better cut through with snappy, creative content than you ever can with a negative attack. The other thing you do by taking on a negative view is prod “the bear” who might just wake up and come after you.

Don’t get me wrong. There are times to market and advertise aggressively. When you have a winning position and a big war chest. I would suggest this is not one of them.