I was skimming yesterday’s Wall Street Journal and was just about to put it down when I spied a half-page photo of a woman standing on a street corner. I decided to try and figure out what the ad was about without reading the text.
The woman is looking straight ahead, and is flanked by men walking away from her in opposite directions. She’s in front of a building, sports a conservative pants suit and has a Mona Lisa-like smile creasing her face.
So, what was the ad for? A new line of women’s business attire? A cell phone company? A promotion for some upcoming walk for the cure of some disease? An incredibly subtle pitch for the DaVinci Code movie?
It was impossible to tell, so I decided to read the headline: "Work. Dream. We’ll leave that up to you. But, as far as taking care of you goes, you can leave that up to us."
Hmmmm. Was this a subtle move by Sanofi-Aventis to promote its beleaguered Ambien product? Maybe a mattress maker promoting its product? A sleep clinic?
Finally I saw the tiny Doubletree Hotel logo at the bottom of the ad. Ah ha. Then, finally, I realized that the woman in question was flanked by two carefully trimmed trees…..the Doubletree logo. Talk about subliminal advertising.
Print advertising rarely gets my interest or attention anymore. There simply isn’t any time on my part or, in my opinion, credibility on the marketer’s part. How much smarter might Doubletree have been to follow JetBlue’s lead and enact a viral, word-of-mouth campaign aimed at sharing customers’ favorite hotel experiences? It would dramatically heighten awareness, credibility and trust since prospects would be reading real-world stories from real-world business travelers.
Oh well, until then, Doubletree will have to count on people like me to "double back" and re-read their ads in order to figure them out. How that then translates to a buying decision, though, is beyond me.