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Monday, 21 March 2011

If this is how they invest their money, I’d hate them anywhere near mine

Not long ago a credit card firm called Mint whose card I have not used for two years sent me a letter and statement.

The statement said I owed them nothing, adding that if I didn’t want to keep using the card, I need do nothing.

So I did nothing.

Then I got a bill for card protection insurance, followed by a phone call chasing the money.

Then a bigger bill (added interest) and another phone call.

You tell me how I can owe money for something I could not possibly have needed protection from - which they well know?

I believe this closely parallels the insurance policies so many of these rogues sold and have been fined millions for, but we shall see.

While I am waiting I thought it worth looking at a few other millions - those that most financial services firms piss away on bad advertising and marketing.

If enough of you find what follows useful, I shall do a free webinar on the subject.


In his introduction to the best ever book on the subject, Claude Hopkins’
"Scientific Advertising”, David Ogilvy wrote, “When I see an advertisement I can always tell if the writer has read Claude Hopkins”.

Very few copywriters who work in financial services have read Hopkins, as a quick survey of their efforts shows.

To be honest, it's hard to believe they have ever studied anything on what makes advertising do its job – get you a good return on your money.

Ironic, when you consider that is what financial services are supposed to do.

Typical is a piece of dross produced for Zurich, who, like most insurance firms, have far too much money for their policyholders’ good.

It is an entire double page spread, with nearly all the space wasted.

There is no promise; instead a picture of a rather sinister-looking individual surfing takes up most of the space.

The headline says, “Some people dream about a retirement spent in the garden. Not me”

After you’ve filed that under “So bloody what?” you can ask a simple question. Why is there no attempt to explain why the reader should choose Zurich rather than anyone else?

That one line just suggests that a pension may free you to do what you want when you retire, whilst asking you to identify with someone you may well find as obnoxious as I did.

The whole ends with a silly slogan - Because change happenz” that, setting aside the twee use of the z, could be applied to just about anything from an umbrella to pregnancy testing.

But that effort is the advertising equivalent of the Mona Lisa compared with one in the same publication (The Week) for Brewin Dolphin which consists of an entirely blank page, and a line at the bottom reading, “We like to begin every relationship with a blank sheet of paper.”

One of John Caples’ books is entitled “Making Ads Pay.” This won’t – not a chance.

As far as I can make out neither the people who turn out this stuff, the creative directors they report to nor the clients who approve their woolly-minded outpourings have the vaguest idea of, or slightest interest, in what sells and what doesn’t.

If you would like to see these and a few other ads analysed so as to examine what works and what doesn’t in this field, just go here and register for my free webinar.

Relax: I won't just vent my spleen on the ads I hate; I'll analyse some good ones too.

Incidentally, the competition in this field is so poor that I reckon anyone with a little skill, determination and willingness to study can make a good living.

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