Let's Make More Clever Advertising, Please


This Saturday morning, Richard Shotton retweeted this Fisher Price ad from BMP in 1986.


And it made me think about all the ads we are seeing right now, from brands that should know better.


But First – What’s so Great About this Fisher Price ad?

Well, it’s the perfect example of omission in advertising.

BMP created the ad in 1986. The headline was: 

“Which of these three kids is wearing Fisher Price anti-slip roller skates?”

It shows a photo of one smiling kid, from the knees up. 

It didn’t do the obvious and show the other kids falling over because they weren’t wearing Fisher Price anti-slip roller skates. 

It didn’t even show the product.

It didn’t need to.

The ad asked a question. 

The reader answered it. 

The point is, it left something out of the ad that made the ad all the more powerful by its absence. 

Well…two somethings. The product.

And two someones. The kids who fell over.


Include your Audience in the Process

This ad includes something wasn’t there before. The reader’s interest. 

And it made the ad all the more powerful by its addition. 

Ads need to include readers in the process. 

Ads should leave the reader with something to do. 

Ads should make you think that you’re clever.  That you’re part of the solution.


The Problem with Modern Marketing

I’m going to say it. The problem is digital. The problem, typically, is SEO.

We want the ad to be clever. To be funny.


But we also need it to be optimised for search. Let’s run it through Ahrefs and find out who else made a similar ad, and then stuff ours with a few more keywords.

And wreck the idea.


advertising feedback


Ads have Become Boring

We spend so much time thinking about targeting and personas, across a million channels and mediums, but then, too often, ruin everything.

Too many ads these days hand the reader everything on a plate. They leave nothing for the reader to do.

Nothing to think.

I might feel something for a moment (cue all the banks’ identical COVID-19 advertising). But do I feel an affinity to their brand? Of course not.




Here’s what I think about the bank’s COVID-19 ads (thanks @trevorbmbagency for sharing):




Why should you be interested in these banks, when clearly they don’t give a damn about you? In times like these, brands need to realise that nobody really cares about their ads.  They have lives to lead, concerns of their own.

Ads don’t always have to show something to get you interested in it. 

Sometimes it’s what you don’t see that makes things much, much more interesting.

But the ad needs to say something, to you. Or to me.

Especially to me.

If it doesn’t make me think, it simply isn’t good enough.


And Here are More Clever Ads

Old ones and new ones:


lamborghini advert

spring onion greanpeacegrasshopper carrot


Let’s Make More Stuff Like This, Please

(We can do it for B2B as well as B2C, too – promise!)

Technology, financial services and charities all have the ability to stand out, right now.

Media is cheap.

Your competitors are either not advertising, or they are all saying the same thing.

Now is the time.

If you’re a brand marketeer or business owner and would like a copy of Richard Shotton’s book,  drop a quick mail to becky@bhandp.com, tell me why you’d like to borrow it, and I’ll lend you my personal copy.


the choice factory


You don’t even have to give it back. It’s my gift to you.