A New Look for Ally Bank Ads?
I can’t be sure but it’s possible that Ally Bank’s new ad agency has either introduced a new magazine ad format or is simply running a new format up the flag pole to get consumer reaction.
Either way, I’m down with the new ad format I discovered the other day on page 43 in my July 4, 2011 issue of Fortune.
From the get-go I’ve been a fan of Ally Bank’s rebranding effort introduced in May of 2009, having been previously known as GMAC Bank.
The bank’s new website is a model of simplicity and easy to navigate. And its familiar purple and gray ads, found everywhere on the Internet, immediately scream “Hey, I’m an Ally Bank ad – read me.” The same is true of the many full-page Ally Bank ads I’ve encountered in a variety of magazines over the past couple of years. Almost the instant your eye catches the sea of purple while paging through a magazine you know you are coming upon an Ally Bank ad.
Here’s a typical Ally Bank ad which appeared in the June 13, 2011 issue of Newsweek.
From the beginning, I was somewhat bothered by the giant, stylized letter “a” appearing in the middle of the ad with the ad’s headline nestled inside the letter’s single eye. To me, being relegated to such a small space meant two things – first, the copywriter was limited in the number of words that could appear in the headline and two, the entire headline could never appear in very large type.
On the other hand, one could argue that placing the headline in this particular spot helps draw your attention to it quickly. It’s like the headline is in the middle of a bulls eye or picture frame. You can’t help but focus on it the instant your eyes land on the page.
As for using the giant, stylized letter “a” as a key visual element in the ad layout, I’m sure the creative team’s goal was to burn the Ally Bank name into our memories as quickly as possible. If this, in fact, was the goal, I have to say it worked on me – and likely millions of other consumers.
Yet, I prefer the new layout on the ad shown below.
Gone is the giant, stylized “a” dominating choice real estate on the page. This leaves room for a much larger headline and subhead and other relevant visual elements like the push-button phone shown above.
In spite of my liking the new layout better, I’m having an argument with myself about the positioning of this ad’s 20-word headline or 12-word headline and 8-word subhead. Being in the same type size, it’s tough to determine if it’s one long headline or a headline with subhead. The type size issue aside, my bigger issue is the placement of these words on the right side of the page. My initial thought is that the headline should be in much larger, bolder type across the entire top of the page.
There’s nothing like a really big, boldface headline to grab your attention quickly.
While pondering this copy, it occurred to me that perhaps the ad’s graphic designer placed the headline copy in this unusual position so the entire headline would appear more quickly as magazine readers slowly turn the pages…encountering the right side of each page first.
As for the visual element, I am surprised at the choice of an ancient landline, push-button phone over a photo of a customer talking into her new smartphone. Given the body copy, perhaps a more effective image would be a customer on her phone talking to a live customer care representative on her headset while sitting in front of a terminal.
By now you are probably telling yourself that Steve the blogger is spending way too much time analyzing these two ads. But this is how you educate yourself about marketing in general and ads specifically. I’d love nothing better right now than to be able to send the ad’s designer an email asking for an explanation of his or her thinking behind this particular layout.
Here’s another bit of information that might be relevant here.
In early April of this year, Ally Bank changed media agencies – leaving Bartle Bogle Hegarty for Grey and G2, both part of the Grey Group. Perhaps this is the first magazine ad from the bank’s new agency. What’s a bit surprising to me is that a persistent Google search failed to turn-up much about the agency switch and any new advertising that’s forthcoming.
It’s for this reason that I suspect this new ad may be a test, allowing the agency and Ally Bank marketing folks to sit back and monitor social media sites and the blogosphere for feedback.
Okay, so what are your thoughts about the new ad as compared to the original ads that have run for the past couple of years? You can send me your comments below. Am I barking up the wrong tree or do I have some valid points?
An inquiring mind wants to know.