Five Ways to Improve An Ad

You're probably all familiar with the American Dairy Association's ad campaign for milk. You've seen it in magazines and on TV and heard how it's won prize after prize.

mona lisa with a milk-stained lip

Well, don't be taken in by the so-called experts. This is one of the most ineffective, self-serving campaigns in recent years.

Why? Because it's a product of an insidious trend in advertising, a trend called "cleverness." Nowadays, it seems, cleverness is all that matters. You don't have to sell a product in clear, understandable terms. All you have to do is be "clever" and witty. And sophisticated.

The result is advertising that doesn't work, except for winning awards given by some self-congratulating arrogant art directors' societies. Sure it makes for great laughs at their so-called intellectual cocktail parties. But it just doesn't work on good old Main Street, USA.

We'd like to show you what this ad could have been, if only it hadn't tried so hard to be "clever." In five easily understood stages, we'll take you step by step through the rules that should guide all good advertising.

Let's Go!