Perils of too many words

Short copy. Long copy. Both have their place in outdoor advertising.

Generally, short copy works best, a simple, punchy message is easy to get across. A message that isn’t clear at first, but is short enough to remember and get the audience to ponder the meaning is harder to pull off, but very effective. Sometimes however, a bit of prose can work wonders, as long as it is intriguing enough to get people to stop and read it.


This ad is the worst of both worlds: my initial impressions: ‘Typical’. Sounds like a complaint. Branding. Not very visible. The image, which can really help convey a message, is too muddled, too much going on.

And that’s all I took away the first couple of times I saw it. I’ve deliberately left the photo blurry to illustrate what a passer by might see.

In short, it’s a mess. It’s a simple enough message, there are no brand values or technical concepts to explain. It’s just too wordy. This advert might work better in a magazine or newspaper, but in this format, it’s worse than useless.

I aim for a maximum of 7 words for a poster advert like this, saving longer copy for spaces where I’ve got a captured audience.

Natwest and Visa need to think of who is going to see this ad and address them more directly.


About Sam Elfer

Blogging about writing
This entry was posted in Bad communications and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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