Monday, June 15, 2009

The simple farm boy with just one chance

Hands up everyone who has seen the Rosetta Stone ad for foreign-language-learning software. By "the" ad I mean one which has run perhaps two years, showing a dark-haired lad holding his baseball cap as he scratches his head, the other hand holding the Rosetta Stone software, while the blurb tells you that he was a farm boy, she was an Italian supermodel, and he would have just one chance to impress her.

I say "the" ad because Rosetta Stone has run this ad month after month, year after year, almost exclusively. There is one other ad -- male grad with proud dad and Rosetta Stone for Chinese -- which I have seen fewer than a dozen times.

Why does this ad irritate me so much? Every time I turn a magazine page and there he stands, scratching his head, I feel like tearing out the page. I think dark thoughts and consider writing to Rosetta Stone management, suggesting they fire their ad agency.

Here's what I think is the real story. The head-scratcher is in fact Mr. Rosetta Stone. He's also the grad, and he hauled his own dad into the Chinese ad. Or maybe the ad "agency" is Mrs. Rosetta Stone and that's her son. Whatever the real story is, it's lousy campaign management. Yes, it does draw the attention of cranks like me. But will it make me run right out and buy Rosetta Stone? Hasn't yet. Isn't going to.

This morning I happened on Distributor Cap NY, a blog focused (I think) on advertising and media, and a piece about diminishing returns. The blog piece is about techniques used to market, for instance, Tide, then switches its focus to political parties*. The issue in politics is the Republican repetition of idiotic memes about both the Democratic party and the Democratic president.

*Incidentally, the blogwriter thinks it's really stupid that for the last generation, Republicans have called their opponents the "Democrat" party.

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