I'm a big believer in borrowing successful ad ideas from other industries and applying them to your own promotional efforts. No, it's not plagiarism. It's just an effective way to avoid pounding your pillow at night for an ingenious idea when there might be one out there that overlays nicely onto your own enterprise.
Case in point: Dewar's Scotch Whiskey was known for a memorable series of "Dewar's Profiles" ads, each of which spotlighted some accomplished individual. The person's interests and tastes were spelled out in captions next to his or her photo, ending with a not-very-shocking pronouncement of his or her favorite scotch. It's a great approach for getting somebody to read your ad because there's a natural curiosity about the person being profiled.
This technique also works perfectly for a profile-style ad series run by The Sports Club/LA, a chain of upscale exercise emporiums in several major cities. Plus, this company is able to get well-known members to mug for the camera. The ad here features Monday Night Football announcer Al Michaels and Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans.
This ad gets an A+ in stopability and style. The headline is incidental because your eyes gravitate to the captions. ("Al's Most Meaningful Achievement: Over the last three decades. . .one loving wife and not a single traffic violation." "Janet's Reason For Working Out: 'It would be embarrassing to be an Olympic Champion and not be fit.' ") The ad implies that by joining the club, you'll rub elbows with the elite like Al and Janet.
This personality profile approach is just one way to break out of the box, especially if you have boxed yourself into advertising styles typical of your field. Entrepreneurs who've spent their entire careers in one industry tend to repeat cliché-ridden success practices. With this method, all you can hope for is to keep up with your competitor. Consider a profile series of your clients. It might get much-wanted extra attention from future customers.
Jerry Fisher is a freelance advertising copywriter and author of Creating Successful Small Business Advertising.