After being one of the first CMA Bloggers to post here, I took a little break -- 5 years to be exact -- while I built my business. Over that period of time, I saw a lot of creative work that impressed me, and a great deal of other work that frustrated me. When I realized I didn't have anywhere to vent that frustration or sing the praises of work I wished I had done, I decided to start blogging here again and am very happy to be back.
One of my biggest frustrations of late is outdoor advertising. There is really one simple rule and it's broken all the time. Keep it simple! A person should be able to get your point in 3 seconds or less while they're driving by in a car going 65 kilometers an hour (assuming they're not texting while they're driving -- that's a whole other frustration -- don't get me started).
The most recent culprit is Toronto Hydro. I can tell you that it's from Toronto Hydro now only because I pulled the car over, put it in park, got out my camera, zoomed in and snapped a shot. I'd seen these green banners posted high on poles all over the city but could never read the small, reversed out copy. It was driving me crazy. What's with the goose heads? As you can see from the image I've posted here, this is what the copy says: Central air? Our new incentive will give you goosebumps. Sign up today. torontohydro.com/peaksaver. You've got to love a URL that take up two lines. And now I understand why there are geese on all of these banners. Goosebumps. Ha ha. Get it? Seems like a long way to go for a pun that has almost nothing to do with the business category.
Even as I transcribe the copy on that banner, I feel my blood pressure going up. Could you read all of that copy while you're driving? Could you read all of that copy even while walking by without stopping? There's an argument to be made that the appealing goose head and the small mostly dark copy would draw you in. But I've seen these banners on roads that are not really conducive to pedestrian traffic. So that would suggest they really did intend for drivers to get the message.
Very likely, the size that you're seeing the banner in this post is comparable to the size it would be if you were in your car and it was high on a pole as you were driving by. Turn your head away from the image, turn back counting in your head to three. Can you read the whole message? Do you get to the URL? Can you read the copy at all? The colours are lovely and the goose head is compelling. But if you're going to do outdoor advertising, follow the rules of the road -- make it easy to read and understand from the road.