A Tale of Two Ad Copies

I believe I've mentioned in the past that my original intention was to become a graphic artist. Obviously, I got sidetracked from that goal along the way and have spent the last 18 years doing nails instead. Nevertheless, I've remained interested in graphic arts and fascinated by marketing, if not exactly dedicated to them.


So while I admit that graphic art design and the use thereof for marketing purposes isn't exactly my area of expertise, I still design my own business cards, signage, and most of my advertising. It’s probably more out of a desire to control every aspect of my business, and a little bit because I'm too cheap to pay anyone who didn't discover the awesomeness of doing nails instead of graphic design, than from any notion that I'm a gifted natural.


Then again ...


Lately I've been working on an ad that will run in a local, community newspaper. It's just going to be black and white on newsprint — nothing shiny, colorful, or even particularly high-quality — so I tried to include some basic elements while keeping the copy simple and clean. Then I e-mailed it to the sales rep.


Not terribly surprisingly, the sales rep e-mailed back and said the company graphic artist had some concerns regarding my design. He (or maybe she, I haven't actually interacted with the artist) specifically mentioned that the typeface and size in my original copy might not show up well when printed. Which I can totally understand and respect — so I said that I'd see what I could do about tweaking it, but meanwhile, by all means, let the artist who actually works for the paper and has experience in the field and an understanding of how original art translates to the final medium work on the ad too.


I get a proof a day or so later that brings me to my ultimate point here today: WTF? I have encountered this throughout my career, in numerous — nay! EVERY — advertising venue I have worked with.


While marketing gurus are busy writing books and contributing articles to our trade magazines about designing effective ad copy and marketing materials, it seems the people who are collecting paychecks at numerous newspapers, yellow pages, and other advertising venues, aren't getting the same advice. It never fails that the proofs I get back from these artists show little to no thought about how the copy will actually work as an advertising tool.


So, here are two copies of my ad for you to consider, one is the original put together by moi, the other is the proof the artist sent back for my approval. To date, I have not approved a proof, much to the dismay of the poor sales rep who makes a living off of commission. But here they are, feel free to offer your critiques of each! Just take a lesson from this and remember that no one knows your business like you do, least of all the guy who's putting together ads for the local yellow pages book. So you can't always trust your local ad department to build an effective ad for you.

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