Too Clever by Half?
I always like when electronic components are used to for a picture.
Who doesn't love good nerd humor? Linx Technologies hit a home run with these banner
ads, IMHO. (added 1/8/2013)
The "back of a napkin" brainstorm-turned-product image has always been appealing
to me. This ad does a good job of capturing the idea.
As the saying goes, "Brevity is the soul of wit."
This ad proves it.
I have always thought this was one of the cleverest ads around.
A more appropriate image to go with the title would be a cable in a snake form shedding
its skin, but most people would not appreciate a snake. As one who has worked with metal armored cables,
any means of getting rid of the metal is a welcome sight.
I hate to be the one to point this out, but in these times of manic concern over
global warming and melting glacier mass, doesn't this seem to suggest that the company views the holy
ice as an impediment to mankind's progress? Just asking...
From a strictly scientific standpoint, that ice floe appears to have its volume evenly
distributed above and below the water line. My schoolbooks say 7/8 of the mass would be under water.
The jury is still out on this one - could easily fall into the too-clever-by-half
This one I like - simple, but effective. We techies speak of "learning curves" all
the time, and often draw a plot in the air with our fingers while doing so.
Yeah, the metaphor is correct, but for some reason it offends me.
A transformation from a paper airplane to a supersonic fighter. Maybe it's a personal
thing since I am an airplane hobbyist.
This should appeal to BASE jumpers and other extreme sports types.
B=Building, A=Antenna tower, S=Span (bridge), E= Earth
This is an unexpected metaphor that, perhaps the only reason I like it because I
appreciate fine woodworking, and Melanie plays the violin.
This is just plain funny - too ridiculous to be real, but then that's why it's funny.
Here is an indisputable fact: Most people are not willing to pay any amount for non-essential items
they consider to be intangibles. That is to say if such an item is not regarded as having trading or
bartering value, then there is usually resistance to paying for it. The behavior is particularly applicable
to printed material (information), be it physical in the form of a magazine, or virtual in the form
of a webpage. I am that way, and my guess is that you are, too.
Now, just because we are not willing to pay for access to certain information does not mean that
we do not want to consume what is being offered, we simply do not care to trade our hard-earned income
for it. That is where advertising comes into play. Television (over-the-air) and radio (AM & FM)
broadcasts, websites, trade magazines (EE Times, Microwaves & RF, High Frequency Electronics, etc.),
neighborhood sporting events, and many other venues that we access on a regular basis have costs entirely
underwritten by companies willing to pay to have their message presented to that portion of the public
benefitting from its investment. RF Cafe is such a venue.
An argument can be made that just because you do not have to shell out money from your pocket for
access, there is actually a price being paid in the form of inconvenience. The presence of advertisements
does create clutter and a distraction from the main topic of your interest. Mental processing time is
required to separate the information from the "noise." In the case of radio and television, you must
endure dedicated segments of advertising (or go do something else), while printed forms are more of
a multitasking (even subconscious) effort. As much as advertising can be considered a nuisance, it obviously
performs a needed function or it would have disappeared long ago. The fact is that almost all companies
(those still in business, anyway) have something that people want or need, so other than word-of-mouth,
advertising is necessary. In many situations, particularly in professional environments where vital
information is needed to be successful, discovering a new opportunity by virtue of an advertisement
can be a (figurative) life saver.
Companies notoriously have paid huge amounts of money to have advertisements designed to maximize
effectiveness. Most notable are the recent Super Bowl campaigns where 30-second slots are being sold
for millions of dollars. I have never been a big football fan, but in the last few years I have taken
to watching the Super Bowl just to see the highly touted commercials. Coca-Cola and UPS would love to
read that confession. Occasionally, the intended effect is realized, but often, IMHO, the advertisements
fall way short of the intended outcome. Some are downright stupid and do more harm than good (like the
Budweiser Clydesdale fart being ignited by the lovers' candle and torching them while they sit in the
sleigh). The phrase "too clever by half" applies for many of them.
The pages of our trade magazines are populated with many types of advertisements; some are really
good, others are really bad, and most are mercifully benign. I tend to notice the first two types. Below
are a few examples of some of the ads that have stood out for one or the other of the two reasons. Company
names and product identifiers have been removed. I am hoping the "Fair Use" rule applies to my reproducing
part of these advertisements. You will probably recognize many of these. My comments, for what they
are worth, are included.
Whether intentional or not, the bald guy lineup is eye-catching! Put a monocle on
the guy 2nd from the left and you'll have
(Colonel Klink of Hogan's Heroes)!
I'm not a cards player, but I think this is a good use of a familiar theme - not
to mention the implication of the waveforms being four aces - the best possible four-of-a-kind hand
This is another lame attempt at using a metaphor. Sorry - not impressed.
Very cleverly done - the graphic concisely illustrates the message using a familiar
object. It definitely conveys the idea of the messy results that can come from a lack of attention to
Here is an effective representation of a component "marketplace."
This one is kind of corny, but it does use an appropriate metaphor.
This series of ads is not bad, but there is not a lot of work that goes into them.
The company's previous series with custom artwork was excellent - particularly their wireless cafe "RF
Kind of funny, but a bit sophomoric, IMHO.
Neither offends nor excites.
Another effective metaphor. Like the nature paintings with embedded secondary images of animals,
you might at first glance miss the city inside (reminiscent of an old
Well, maybe if the ringside female support staff associated with professional wrestling was also
included in the image...
I'm guessing the creators of this ad are surfers and hope others will appreciate
the juxtaposing of ideas. Maybe it does.
I remember seeing this kind of thing in a Bugs Bunny cartoon back in the 1960s -
not exactly original.
Send me your candidates with a short blurb about why you like or dislike
them, and I will be glad to include them here (with appropriate credit).
- Kirt Blattenberger
Posted January 10, 2008