I've been doing some traveling recently, and I've spent a good amount of time bored on planes. Air travel brings out the best (e.g. Southwest "Wanna get away?" ads) and worst (e.g. entire SkyMall catalog) in advertising, so here is an example of one thing the airlines got right, and one thing that went horribly, horribly wrong.
This is a simple package of peanuts on the low cost carrier AirTran:
The front of the package says, "How to Eat Gourmet Pretzels on a Low-Fare Airline." Kind of an odd message on a bag of in-flight snacks, and it made me turn the package over to read the "Complete Details." I couldn't get a good photo or scan of the back of the package, so here's what it says:
1. Think about our wonderful low fares at airtran.com as you open packet.
2. Place a pretzel in mouth. With each crunch, be reminded of our low fares.
3. As you swallow, remember again just how low the fares are.
4. Repeat until pretzel packet is empty.
5. Keep empty packet to remind yourself to book at airtran.com for our lowest fares and no booking fees.
Pretty clever. I like the idea of giving pretzel-eating instructions. The copy is intentionally hard-hitting, but if you do take the time to read the packet, you are indeed reminded that AirTran is a low-cost airline. That's the whole point: getting one message (i.e. "Our flights are cheap at airtran.com") across to the consumer in a simple, direct way. It's free advertising, too -- AirTran is guaranteed that every one of its customers sees this pretzel package, and they made sure it carried their message. The light-hearted delivery even makes it enjoyable to read.
Now, for the bad. This is an ad in the in-flight magazine on the same AirTran flight:
Who doesn't want to place a slab of meat on something called the Big Green EGG? And if the idea of grilling up the family Fourth-of-July meal on an EGG appeals to you, I hope you like the color green. Because that's apparently what you're getting.
The supporting copy is hard to read on this photo, so here are some highlights:
What's Different About The EGG? Space-Age Ceramics Make It EGGstraordinary
Okay, you totally called it "Big Green EGG" just so you could use that "EGGstraordinary" bit. I have to give it up, that's a good one! I'm sold. May I also add that this Big Green EGG is made "EGGspecially for you"? Or that it grills "EGGceedingly well"? Incidentally, do puns in headlines ever sell products? EGGsactly.
Also, "Space-Age" ceramics? If anyone believes this, I've got a Space-Aged bridge to sell you.
Natural lump charcoal gives food terrific taste
What does this have to do with the EGG, exactly? Excuse me, EGGsactly? Natural lump charcoal is something you'd buy separately and put into this grill, or smoker, or whatever it is. This would be like an ad for a typewriter claiming that writing the great American novel would be terrific.
Double-wall high-tech ceramics make it durable and fuel efficient (sic on the lack of hyphenation)
There we go again with this new-fangled ceramics. Did an alien infuse the ceramic shell with invisible grilling rays? Is there a force-field around the EGG that reconstitutes the material if it falls over and breaks? This is ceramics we're talking about, not an iPhone.
Bakes better than a brick oven - pizza, bread, even dessert
"Honey, the steaks and scones are ready out here on the grill!"
Turkey, ribs, chicken, burgers, fish & veggies - the EGG does them all effortlessly
Ostrich, alpaca, turtle giblets, carrier pigeon, dolphin shanks & Dippin' Dots - the EGG does them all. Whatever "does" means.
Ahh, poorly-written ads just make in-flight magazines EGGstra special.