So, dear reader, I was meandering through a very funny blog on vegetarianism – I recommend it, by the way – and I came across this ad for a restaurant.
Ten seconds on Google and it turns out it’s in Minneapolis. Their website is here: jdhoyts.com. I have no idea if they’re any good, but it looks a fun place to get lost on St Patrick’s Day, which is tomorrow. Or any other day, for that matter.
They’re in America, of course, the land where they understand written advertising better than most.
I honestly wouldn’t have known anyone was writing great ads in Minneapolis, but then I know absolutely the best part of five tenths of eff all about the place anyway, coming from the other side of the planet, so I apologise now to all creative Minneapolitans. Or Minnesotans. (Apparently they’re called both. God, you gotta love Google. Minneapolitans? That’s a mouthful. I love the names we dream up for people who live places – residents of Tasmania are called, hilariously, Tasweigians. Who decides these things? Anyway, I digress.)
So here’s the ad. Afterwards I’ll tell you why it’s so brilliant.
Looking at their website, it appears they sell lots of things. They sell heaps of seafood. Lots of delicious soups, with croutons if you want them. Bags of pasta. They even – quelle horreur! – sell salads.
Dammit, girls, they even do brunch.
But hang on: they don’t list everything they sell in their ad, do they? They have decided what they do – which is sell meat to people who love well-prepared meat – great big lumps of char-grilled cholesterol-packed dead cow oozing blood and hanging over the edge of the plate is what I see when I look at their ad – and they choose to sacrifice everything else they do to get that message across quickly and un-missably.
Head to their website (notice they don’t have to clutter the ad and put their website URL in it, because that’s what search engines are for, even if you didn’t just guess it’s jdhoyts.com, of course, which most people would), and you’ll find out they also advertise being a place many pro-sportspeople come to eat.
Hang on, meat … lots of it … beer, presumably, and sports. Hmmm, not too difficult to identify their core target market, is it?
Of course, they could have told us about their happy hour, their extensive range of cocktails, or, for that matter, that they have valet parking. In fact, no doubt the ladies toilet is clean if you want to drag your girlfriend/wife/suffering better half along as well.
But they didn’t.
No, they left us to find all that out later, confident that their single-minded, attention grabbing ad would get our attention long enough for them to tell us all the rest of their stuff somewhere or somehow else – like on their website, or the phone, or when we just rocked up at their door, salivating and swinging our arms at knee level.
The ad is also funny. Laugh out loud funny. And the humour is 100% relevant to their core proposition. “We sell meat.”
This use of humour – even if, on reflection, it’s an old joke – makes us like them. And we are pre-disposed to buy things from people we like, of course.
Now this doesn’t mean that humour has to be in every ad we run. By no means. Ads can be serious, frightening, factual, adorable. But it does mean likeability has to be in all of our ads. Likeability that can also be translated in the customer’s mind as trustworthy, someone I want in my corner, someone with my interests at heart.
Well, that’s if we want the ad to work, I mean. If you don’t care whether your ads work or not, then don’t bother making them likeable. Have a flick through today’s newspaper. How many ads are genuinely likeable? If you can find one, poach their marketing manager, or their ad agency. Because that’ll be the ad that’s working, this day.
And also, back on the J D Hoyt’s ad, because it’s so single minded, and so funny, it wouldn’t have to be a big ad, either.
Just a corner of a page, or the top of a column of restaurant listings, or a banner ad on someone else’s website. It doesn’t need heaps of money spent on it, or an expensively taken photograph, animation, music, or any other eye-catching device. It just requires single-mindedness, clarity, and humour.
Last but not least, their strap-line or kicker line is just a repetition of their core proposition, and it’s not bland or boring or corporate-y. It is also firmly directed at the audience, and not merely big upping the restaurant, although it is talking about the restaurant, of course, except it does it via their audience’s heads. Phew. You know what I mean.
Clever. Damn clever.
So the next time you think of adding some crap like “Our strength is our people” under your logo, and not relating it (even if you could) to the core proposition of your business, remember “A restaurant for carnivores.”
Better still, encourage your advertising agency to actually write your ads and kicker line for you, instead of effectively writing them yourselves, and just asking them to return them back to you in a rather more professional format. (Which is what most weak advertisers sadly do.)
It all reminds me actually of one of the very best small space ads I ever saw. It was a tiny ad in the sports pages of the Melbourne Herald Sun, and it was for a strip joint. Under the name of the establishment, and with no other information at all except an address, it simply said “World4Men”.
After all, really, what else did they have to say? Hmmm?