George Duncan

Marketing copywriter/consultant, author

Hey, USAA, what the hell?…

From Watch Your Ads – A media memo by George Duncan

I mentioned this ad before, but I still don’t get it. And I’ve had USAA insurance for 50 years! USAA “Once earned,” the ad says, USAA automobile policies are “passed down” to family members. Huh? Do I need to put my USAA policy in my will? Will it be the same policy? Different driver, different car, different year, but same policy? Then a woman says she “earned” her policy in Korea in 1953.  Another earned hers in Afghanistan in 2003. And a kid says she got hers – never mind she’s too young to drive – while in orbit in 1971. Does that mean their significant others died? And what does “earned” mean? Something other than purchasing? And this from an organization run by retired generals? Front and center, guys!

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Ok, but does Stacy’s dad know?

The new ad for Cadillac shows a comely woman approaching and entering her Cadillac while the soundtrack has a tune going, “Stacy’s mom has it going on.” Really?  What’s “it,” exactly? Could she be the daughter in the Subaru ad that “grew up” in the back seat of her mother’s car?

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Save your life! Win the Lottery! Realize your wildest dreams!

All it takes is a Brother (or brother) P-touch Labeler! I know, I know. It’s hard to believe, but it’s right there in their ad.  Your career, your business, your home and love life will all go swimmingly just by putting printed labels on everything with a Brother P-touch Labeler. On a drawer, print DRAWER. On a file, print FILE. Oh, the places you can go!

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Be afraid! Be very afraid! And open this envelope NOW!

As a recovering direct mail writer for more than forty years, I’m learning that where you stand depends on where you sit. When I was in Cube City, I wrote and designed many wild and crazy envelopes. With teasers or without, the trick was to get the recipient to open the envelope. It was a great game. But now I’m the recipient and I have to chuckle at some of the lame envelope strategies I get in the mail. One recent example was an oversized package, 11 ½”x 5”, loaded with Very Important Information. Vertical at the left edge is “DocEx” complete with a document number and day/date, filled in with typewriter courier. Also, “Document Express * Important Delivery Letter.” And that’s just for openers (so to speak).

At the top of the envelope is “This package contains important information that requires an immediate response.”  That’s followed by a large “2014, followed by a bar code, followed by “Dated material enclosed. Contents of this package are for the recipient only.” (Well that settles that!) At the bottom of the envelope is “Do not fold,” (wouldn’t dream of it!) “Secured Carrier. Verified Delivery.” (Whew!) In the window below the address block, the top of the letter is strategically positioned. “Benjamin D. Suarez,” it says. “Corporate President and Chief Executive Officer. “ Wow! Right from the Grand Poobah himself! Wait, there’s more.

On the back of the envelope is the return address for BioTech Research and “Dispatcher No. 31.” Below that in 16 point type, “Check the Enclosed Documents Immediately.” Holy postal service! OK! So, with trembling fingers, I open the envelope to reveal… THE SMELLKILLER ODOR REMOVER!   I won’t burden you further with a description of the product.  Give me a good ole’ Nigerian Prince email any day.

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Fore! Grab that opportunity!

On the other hand, CME Group has a nifty ad showing a woman professional golfer (didn’t get her name), driving balls from a Manhattan rooftop. They represent investment opportunities and they land in various places around town identifiable as being one or another of several economic strata. One lands at the feet of Richard Branson as he’s boarding a plane. He picks it up, examines it, and with a smile, tucks it in his pocket. Cool.

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Keep clickin’

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