Borrowed Interest Ads Are a Waste

I’ve learned a lot about how to make good ads from a column that’s been around since at least the mid-1960’s.

It started as “The Copy Chasers” in AdAge, then went to Industrial Marketing, and now resides at BtoB where it’s just called “Chasers”.

The columnists – always anonymous – critique ads submitted by proud B to B advertisers, only to have their pets drawn and quartered. Oh, occasionally an ad would get accolades, but I always wondered why ad managers and agency people would submit their dogs for public execution. 

Anyway, over time their teachings have made a great impression on me. Over and over Copy Chasers warned about reverse type, or 4-color type over a 4-color background, or layouts without headlines. But most telling had to do with ad concepts and clichéd executions.

The concept of borrowed interest was, again and again, panned as a poor communications vehicle produced by lazy and/or no-talent writers and designers. I still bridle at borrowed interest ads and marketing communications of all types.

Then, in the latest issue of BtoB appears an ad with the following visual and headline:

 Borrowed interest ad - poor use of ad dollars

The copy starts with “Chew on this: tough media planning decisions get easier…”. I won’t embarrass the advertiser by telling you who approved and placed this full page of drivel.

If only the Chasers of today could get their hands on this dog. But of course, ads must be submitted by the advertiser, and even then I’m not sure the editors would allow the Chasers within a rope’s length of this one. 

Anyway, I still believe that borrowed interest just means there’s no real value in the product or service you offer, or at least the agency people couldn’t find it, or were more concerned with a “creative” portfolio that might impress other ad people. But why on earth would the advertiser approve it?


Change of subject: be sure to come back on Monday to review what I’ve written on the common branding problem the twelve pundits of the BrandingWire are simultaneously tackling. Then go on to to review the other perspectives. I think you’ll be amazed at the diversity and creativity demonstrated in this monthly co-op blogging event.

Martin Jelsema

3 thoughts on “Borrowed Interest Ads Are a Waste

  1. Martin, what bothers me most is when brands piggyback onto issues that are inappropriate by any measure: Kenneth Cole using the Egyptian protests to promote online sales. Groupon using China’s suppression of Tibet to sell restaurant coupons. This is borrowed interest taken to a new low, and it stands out all the more in the age of interactive communication.

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