From the August 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

A famous cereal maker has a long-running commercial that shows how many bowls of its rival's brand you'd have to eat to get the same amount of nutrition that's in one bowl of its brand. It's a very impressive way to make the point, and probably has sold a lot of cereal flakes.

Now a multivitamin maker has come along with the ad shown here, using basically the same idea-and it, too, grabs attention. The ad displays all the individual vitamins and minerals you'd have to gulp down-30 in all-in order to get the same benefits in just one of its caplets. It's such a natural approach for this kind of product that you would think another supplement maker would have already used it. But I haven't seen such. So the people at SuperNutrition and their ad agency, Gauger + Santy in San Francisco, get an A+ in my book for coming up with this eye-grabbing way of making their big point. And squeezing it into a skinny one-column format is another coup.

The headline sets you up, and the footline gives you the payoff. The headline sits amid a carefully arranged collection of many pills and capsules (each with a faint drop shadow to give them dimension) and says "Getting all the right nutrients can be complicated." Then comes the kicker at the bottom-"Or not"-placed next to the company's multivitamin product. In the nutritional supplements arena, advertising has to combat the formidable obstacle of product parity-and this effort works hard to do that.

How might other products or services borrow this concept? I can picture an ad having a whiff of the same idea, except that, instead of pills and capsules, it would show images of all the individual pieces of information you'd need to gather to become informed on a certain subject, such as starting a certain kind of business. Of course, it's way too complicated and time-consuming to do it the old way. But the bottom of the ad would feature the solution-a single CD-ROM containing the same information.

Last December in this column, I showed you another variation of this approach. It was how a company that publishes executive summaries of business books promotes its shortcut alternative. The ad showed an image of the book with the headline "Approximate reading time, 8 hours 30 minutes." Next to it is was an image of the eight-page summary with the headline, "Approximate reading time, 30 minutes." Could a similar concept work for your business?


Jerry Fisher (www.jerry-fisher.com) is a freelance advertising copywriter and author of Creating Successful Small Business Advertising.