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Ads Must Sell

December 20, 1987

Reading Jerry Cowle's Dec. 13 column regarding today's advertising trends ("Taking a Giant Step Backward"), I was happy to see finally that someone else out there has the same frustrations I do. But I felt Cowles omitted one important point: the lack of brand-name retention by the potential consumer.

If you listen or watch the latest onslaught of ads, you'll notice that many are simply shtick. That's right, they go for the funny bone in a big way. And most are actually funny. The current formula seems to be to soften the pitch with some laughs. That's great if the idea is to make people laugh, but aren't we supposed to be buying? All of this comedic effort is a complete waste if listeners and viewers only tune into the jokes and the banter, never taking notice of the product name. Because we cannot see the product, this applies especially to radio.

It seems to me that what many of the advertising companies have on their hands are frustrated comedy writers and not persuasive copywriters. What good is an ad, no matter how clever or funny it is, if the consumer can't tell you who the company was a mere 10 seconds after the ad is over?

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the effort to make advertisements more palatable and I'd much rather listen to shtick than some boring line about how one product is better than the next. But the trick is to make us remember the name while not making us angry over the interruption of our our favorite television or radio show. These sponsors should know that their millions of dollars are falling on deaf ears, when it comes to brand-name retention.

I'd be happy to cite some examples, if only I could remember the products.

JOSH TANE

West Hollywood

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