Does Your Ad Dog Bite? (Or Is It Just A Show Dog?)

Posted by on August 19, 2013

A Monday Morning Memo from The Wizard of Ads

Most ad campaigns have no teeth. Heavy with style but light on substance, these toothless campaigns remind me of the little Pekingese dog that sits on every Grandmother’s porch. “Bark, Bark, Bark,” says the Pekingese dog, but you, me, and Grandma know he isn’t going to jump off that porch and bite anybody. He just likes to say “Bark, Bark, Bark.”

I’m predicting McDonald’s new “Arch Deluxe” campaign will go down in history as Ronald McDonald’s little Pekingese dog. I’m going way out on a limb here, because McDonald’s has never had an advertising failure to my knowledge, but I’m convinced “Arch Deluxe” will be their first.

Thirty years ago, McDonald’s told kids they were “A Happy Place,” and then proved it by building the most enchanting playgrounds in America and packaging wonderful toys inside a colorful box with a simple, little burger and some great fries. Genius.

Thirty years later, these same kids have grown up to become a nation of adults with no time to waste, but McDonald’s is unwilling to build a second chain of stores to serve this new market, so a little Pekingese dog named “Arch Deluxe” has been brought in to say “Bark, Bark, Bark.” The Arch Deluxe ads tell us “McDonald’s isn’t just for kids, anymore! McDonald’s is for grownups, too!” Yet I’m convinced America will take one, quick look and say, “Wait a minute, Ronald. I’m still seeing playgrounds, Happy Meals, plastic booths, and a clown with big yellow shoes. Do you really expect me to sit in those same, plastic booths and believe it’s a whole different place based solely on a series of offbeat ads?”

An ad campaign which makes unsubstantiated claims is a courtship built on empty promises. Your advertising might say exactly what the customer wants to hear, but if your sweet talk is not backed up by evidence, the customer will soon decide you are just another yapping, Pekingese dog.

The Arch Deluxe campaign is a good example of advertising which is “creative” without being “persuasive.” Style without substance. Claims without proof. Brave talk.
Rule #1: Any claim made in your advertising which your customer does not perceive as the truth is a horrible waste of ad dollars.

McDonald’s is a great company. I use them to illustrate the danger of making unsubstantiated claims only because they were the last company in America to fall into the trap. Everyone else had already done it.

Advertising is a powerful thing, but it’s not powerful enough to make the public see the emporer’s new clothes when the emperor is, in fact walking down the street naked.

Call us if you need us. Have a great week.

Roy H. Williams

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