How To Waste HK$41,760 On One Ad

Posted on 11 November 2009

In today’s South China Morning Post newspaper in Hong Kong (November 11, 2009), there’s a HUGE and attractively designed ad for the Faculty of Humanities at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

The ad is 36cms deep and five columns (25.5cms) wide. According to the newspaper’s advertising ratesheet, that means the ad would have cost the advertiser HK$41,760 (about US$5,388).  

The headline reads “Where language and culture enrich our society”. That’s followed by two paragraphs all about what the nice people in the Faculty of Humanities do: “…we bring together language, culture and science…”, “We believe…”, “We encourage our students…”, “We have nurtured good communicators and responsible citizens…”. Every Copywriting 101 textbook says an ad should focus on the reader’s wants and needs by using the word “you” a LOT more than a self-congratulatory “we”.

But what makes the ad a total failure from a marketing point of view is that it doesn’t tell readers what to do next. There’s no call to action. What are we supposed to DO with all that information, other than think “Gee, they’re real nice people”? The ad doesn’t tell us how to contact the Faculty, how to find more information about the courses they offer, or how to enrol. There’s no phone number, no e-mail address, no website address, not even a postal address.

What a waste of $41,760!

And an update, November 18:

Oh dear, there’s another huge, wasteful ad from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University in today’s South China Morning Post – this time it’s for the Faculty of Construction and Land Use. Again, there’s lots of we, we, we, but no contact details. Seems like they’re doing a series of ads about various Faculties.

3 responses to How To Waste HK$41,760 On One Ad

  • Christopher Coleman says:

    Clearly it wasn’t written by the department of marketing.

  • Spike says:

    Years ago (decades, actually) the famous Fountainbleu Hotel in Miami Beach didn’t have any sign to mark their location. The marketing ploy was, “If you don’t know where we are, you don’t belong here.”

    Perhaps the HK: PU feels they belong in the same rarefied strata?

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kay Ross and BloggingTweets, Greg Savage. Greg Savage said: RT @kayross: My new blog post: How To Waste HK$41,760 On One Ad. and a lot of recruieters make similar errors […]

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