Just Wasted Space? Ads Too Subtle to Sell

The first quarter of this year saw a slew of new ads promoting all sorts of products. The problem? Sometimes it's hard to tell by the image what product is being promoted. The challenge? Identifying the product without --and sometimes even with -- the corresponding copy.

These latest ads promote a variety of products, but a number of them don't seem to impart their message clearly. After analyzing them to see how well they put their message across, there are still a few I don't understand.

Are these ads a total waste of time and money? Can you tell what they are selling?

1. The Wheel

The Africa Agency in São Paulo, Brazil, came up with this ad.


Source: Ads of the World

Now, here's the tag line: Sometimes a great idea needs a different format to make it happen. Folha's special formats make all the difference."

Still unclear about the message?

The header read: Folha de São Paulo newspaper:

Make it clearer?

My guess, that the newspaper uses nice fonts so it's easy on your eyes to read.

2. The Women

I must be dense, but I totally misunderstood this first ad. I pictured the woman undressing. Wrong!


Source: Ads of the World

In fact, I didn't understand the ad (created by Demner, Merlicek & Bergmann, Vienna Austria) until I saw the next TWO (created by Euro RSCG, Helsinki, Finland). The truth be told, it wasn't until I saw the third ad that my mind really visualized the intent. From where I sit, the first ad still doesn't work. What do you think?


Source: Ads of the World


Source: Ads of the World

3. The Comic Book

This ad from Geiovanni + DraftFeb, São Paulo, Brazil, leaves me scratching my head. The thought bubble is HUGE for such a little "ouch" (again, I'm reading the copy). Maybe the bubblemaker is hungover? Maybe the "ouch" is minor. But, then, why do you need the product? I say mixed message. What do you think?


Source: Ads of the World

4. Sex?

This ad speaks for itself, or does it?


Source: Ads of the World

This ad from Invent Propoganda Agency, Brazil is meant to sell sex, right? Or is it meant to promote a business that sells sex? Or sex toys? Or pronography?

And let's face it, what's sexy about a bumpy tongue? Granted, the abs on choice number two aren't bad, no boubt he's the "spicy" choice (okay, so I'm reading the copy, AGAIN), but I'm still clueless as to what's for sale.

So, which of these ads--if any--do you think works?

Thanks for reading. Be sure to check back. There are more to come in Subtle Ads, Part II.