The Curse of Know-Nothing Marketers
The fourth illustration in the mediaplayer is from that same issue of TIME—a full-page ad for E*Trade with a spectacular offer to traders: 60 days of free trades (normally $9.99 each) plus up to $500 cash. For an active stock, bond or ETF trader, this is a huge inducement to open an E*Trade account, even if the account is canceled on the 59th day.
The actual ad is shown on the left-hand side of the illustration with this silly, meaningless blind headline:
In small type under this headline is the deck—the 60-day offer for free trading plus up to $500—that could easily be overlooked.
In addition, the response information (phone and email address) is buried in white mousetype on a black background at the very bottom left of the ad.
On the right-hand side of the fourth illustration is a minimal redesign of this ad—reversing the headline and the deck and prominently featuring the reply information.
With the revised version a serious trader can immediately see the offer, instantly decide if it’s worth pursuing and contact E*Trade in seconds.
Ads With No Headlines
In that issue of TIME are two additional ads that break the rules—Goldman Sachs and United Healthcare—see the fifth illustration in the mediaplayer. Neither has a headline.
As longtime readers know, I describe this kind of nonsense as peeing in blue serge. It makes you feel warm all over and nobody notices.