Bus advert copy overload

SimonGeneral4 Comments

As a public sector marketer I lead a team that does all sorts of marketing activity, including booking traditional media formats like bus advertising.

Which means I am quite sad when I’m out and about and can’t actually look at adverts anywhere without scrutinising them from a marketer’s point of view.

So when I spotted this bus advert in the traffic ahead of me on the way home today my heart sank:

Bus advert

I should at this point mention that it isn’t one of our adverts, but if it was I’d have been fuming.

When designing and copywriting adverts, you need to think about the context in which it’ll be viewed.

Bus adverts are typically viewed in very short bursts while people are driving, often at speed, or being passed by an advert-laden bus.

Which means there’s not much of an opportunity to read lots of words.

In fact 5-10 words is probably too much. Have a look at the next bus advert you see and count the words. Any more and the message is lost.

So to my mind this advert is a wasted opportunity to sell and a waste of precious marketing budget.

I hate to say it, but it’s usually public sector organisations that try to squeeze too many words onto adverts. I don’t see many adverts from large private sector companies that fall into this trap.

4 Comments on “Bus advert copy overload”

  1. I would completely agree with you about it usually being a large public sector company having the ‘too-much-info-in-too-small-a-space’ issue but think this is more often than not due to senior managers trying to control the agenda and the content when they should ease off a little and leave the communications experts to do their job!

    1. Thanks for your comment Sian – I know what you mean about senior managers trying to get too involved in the details of campaigns.

      I think it’s important that as communicators we must explain and justify why certain decisions, eg about creative, are made – otherwise we risk being marginalised as a “production” function.

      We need to position marketing/communications as a profession within the public sector – all too often we’re seen as people that make pretty adverts – and there’s so much more to it than that! 🙂

  2. Agree – particularly adverts with lengthy and unmemorable URLs for further info. You’ll never remember it when you get back to online world.

    I saw a pretty good advert on a local bus the other day (and it wasn’t one scrawled in marker pen on the back seat!) – so good I thought – that I took a photo of it too..


    It’s from the NHS and they’ve made the ad look like a Facebook group invite – quite innovative in my eyes: “You have been invited to join the Chlamydia Group (West Midlands), [Accept] or [Decline]”

    1. Thanks for the comment Matt – I like that one too – it’s clear and will catch the attention of (what I assume is) the target audience that will be familiar with Facebook.

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