tisdag 15 juli 2008

The fear of being different

One of my Friday joys is buying The Economist. During the following week I read it through until a new edition shows up at my local newspaper guy here in Patan.

Now, besides the fact that it is a great magazine, I love to check out the advertisements. Not so much for what they want to sell me (I love being offered the opportunity to tender for a mega construction project in Saudi Arabia), but for how the advertisers formulate themselves.

As a copywriter I am full of respect for my fellow copywriters whose ads are published in The Economist. Because the people who advertise in The Economist can afford the best copywriters.

But there is a genre of ad copy that is pure bullshit. And that is course advertisements for a range of business schools and universities: MBA’s, leMBA’s, DBA’s, PhD’s and so forth.

The problem: They are basically all the same. They are either slick, very slick or super slick.

It’s all executive, visionary, leadership, thinking, excellence and strategic. And then to top it off, the art director smacks in a photo of a very engaged group of students or alternatively, a photo model pretending he is a successful businessman.

Now, being different is hard, I admit that. But if you are a business school talking about visions, leadership and the importance of being different, why not start with your own course advertisement? But that idea is apparently a big no, no. Have a look at these samples and you'll get my point (click to enlarge):

Then, in the end of March, my world view was shaken. I saw a different course advertisement. An advertisement by a school that had the guts to create an original advertisement. A personal, straightforward and very funny advertisement. Without a single photo model.

In my wide open eyes the advertisement was a full-blown kick in the butt on all those posh’n’glossy bullshit advertisements.

The school that had the guts to let a copywriter create an original advertisement was the Dutch TiasNimbas Business School. Have a look:

TiasNimbas’ copywriter not only created excellent copy, the copywriter also created a schoolbook example showing how you can create something original without a lot of money but instead by using your brain.

Now I wait for more TiasNimbas advertisements by the same copywriter.

And of course, would you not just love to see all those copycats waking up from their beauty sleep?