Don’t Squeeze the Garmin

Unlike most people, I enjoy watching commercials. Why? Well, I write my fair share of advertising copy, so I consider TV time “research time.” (Do not judge me.)

So what does this little revelation have to do with something called Garmin? I’ve seen this Garmin holiday ad no fewer than four times, and at the end of each viewing, I still had no clue what Garmin did. So, I went to Google and learned that Garmin develops/manufactures technologies for GPS. I then rewatched Garmin’s commercials (here’s the first version). The words–the actual ad copy–are revised lyrics to a holiday song: “Carol of the Bells.”

Clever, you might think, except for this one little problem: I never understood the words until I sat at my computer and really listened (straining some ear muscles in the process). The holiday tune is too overpowering, and the words just warp and warble, making no sense (part of the problem is the speed, I think–the lyrics go by way too fast…with 30-second spots, every word matters and if I’m straining to even understand the words, well). Yes, the commercial caught my attention, and I have the damn instrumental version of the song stuck in my head.

But don’t forget this important fact: I was trying to figure out what the commercial was for the first time I watched it. And the second time. And the third time. And the fourth. (A shame, considering my mom asked for a GPS system this holiday season.) Most people won’t try so hard.

Takeaway: clever is fine as long as clever includes an even more important C word: clarity.

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2 replies
  1. robynbradley
    robynbradley says:

    I want to share some of the comments this post is generating on my personal Facebook account (I use Twitterfeed to post the blog articles to my Facebook newsfeed). I welcome more comments here:

    Chuck: like-wise advertisers who seemingly believe a visual with a piece of music is ample to pitch their product. but they lose an entire portion of a marketing audience with that ploy: visually impaired. many “listen” to the tv – and what a waste of :30 of ad time. i think of the budweiser superbowl spots with music only – no v/o whatsoever. visually impaired people might drink beer. audience target lost.

    Lewis: Especially when you’re dealing with electronics. I want to know the features of a device. What does the menu options look like? What if I do want to squeeze a Garmin?

    Melissa: Chuck, you bring up an excellent point. However, I believe these types of copy & jingle ads are a direct result of the economy. Advertisers *need* to stay top of mind, but don’t have budget to cover all that goes into casting talent, booking locations, shooting on site, editing, etc., not t mention paying for the rights to use a song, or pay the singers. Unfortunately the visually impaired are collateral damage of tight budgets.

    Reply

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  1. […] 8, 2009 by robynbradley Dear Copy Bitch: Yesterday, you pointed out the negative: a holiday ad that doesn’t work (in your opinion). How about showing some holiday cheer and pointing out an ad that does […]

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