Pouring salt on the wound

Linden-20140128-00032New Jersey Transit and print advertising are two of my least favorite things. The former is synonymous with horrific service. The latter plays a marginal role in creating awareness but, in reality, does little more than annoy the average consumer.

So, imagine my personal, perfect storm when I spied a godawful print ad that inadvertently reinforced my hatred of all things NJ Transit-related.

It happened the other day when I was stuck on yet another train. The earlier ones had been cancelled (“overhead wiring issues”) and mine would be making all local stops. It was filled with passengers packed together LIKE sardines AND boasted a temperature humidity index that would rival any hot yoga class.

That’s when I saw the ad.

The headline read: ‘If you yawn, how many people around you will yawn too?’

Based upon the ungodly conditions on-board my train, I guessed the answer was ‘everyone would yawn.’

The copy went on to suggest the marketer, Prudential Securities, was great at identifying instincts such as yawning. And, wouldn’t you want your banker attuned to such subtleties when managing your investment portfolio?

Talk about the wrong ad in the wrong place at the wrong time!

Whoever bought the NJ Transit space should be sent to an advertising version of Gitmo for waterboarding.

New Jersey Transit riders are worn out. Their jobs fatigue them. And, their commute beats the hell out of them.

So, why on earth would Prudential uses yawning as a device to tell their story? Talk about pouring salt on the wound.

The Yawn ad is a textbook example of a brand NOT listening to its target audience. If Prudential HAD taken the time to study the wants and needs of NJ Transit commuters, they’d have known not to reinforce a negative emotion AS the negative emotion is occurring real-time.

I’ll tell you one thing. I’ll never, ever consider Prudential Securities. Not after their print ad made me feel this way. And, I’ll bet thousands of fellow passengers felt the same way (assuming they weren’t yawning, or sleeping) during the ride).

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