What Is The Role Of Graphic Design?
At first glance it reminded me of an Old West “Wanted” poster. So it did its job…it got my attention.
After spending a few minutes looking at the photos and reading the copy, I was confused by the front side of the card.
The oversized postcard from Comcast arrived early last month. You might be able to see it online at http://www.comcast.com/cashback/. In a bit of irony, Comcast has taken to traditional direct mail to solicit its existing customers for other services. Hardly a month goes by that I don’t receive one or two oversized postcards from my friends at Comcast.
Normally, when I see the format of an Old West “Wanted” poster used in an ad or on a direct mail piece, I expect to see one or more photographs of the wanted person or item. In the Comcast example, the “Wanted” poster included photographs of Shaquille O’Neal and Ben Stein dressed in western garb.
Immediately, they seemed out of place on the front of this postcard.
What ran through my mind was why these two celebrities would be wanted? They didn’t seem to fit with the poster copy which read:
[Above the photos]
LOCKED & LOADED
HD Triple Play
[Below the photos]
YOU CAN LOCK IT IN FOR
AT $99 A MONTH
“The Best Entertainment” was the copy line under the Shaquille O’Neal photo while “The Smartest Price” appeared under Ben Stein’s photo.
Comcast didn’t want Shaq and Ben…it wanted me and other customers to signup for the HD Triple Play plan being described on the back of the card. And I doubt that Shaq and Ben wanted what Comcast was offering. And if they did, why should I care?
In lieu of the two celebrity photographs, perhaps the art director should have provided the three triple play icons for Digital Cable, Faster Internet, and Unlimited Nationwide Calling which appear on the back of the postcard. After all, according to Comcast it’s these three that are “wanted” by consumers…or should be wanted in my case.
So why am I bothered by this confusing bit of graphic art on the front of a postcard?
In my experience, creative folks often come up with a design idea and can’t seem to let it go when they see it doesn’t really work for the offer. I feel the Comcast “Wanted” poster is a case in point. From my perspective, it just doesn’t seem to work in the context of the offer being made. Or perhaps it could have worked had the designer used different photographs.
In other instances, the design overwhelms the copy and takes the focus off the all-important offer being delivered by the copy. Some art directors see the copy as just another design element which has a detrimental impact on readability and response.
The best art directors and graphic designers know that the primary function of design is to make the copy readable. Nothing more!
By the way, another bit of irony is that the only response option provided on the Comcast postcard is a toll-free number. I was surprised at the lack of a website address. Then it occurred to me that the folks at Comcast need me to call them so I can get the hard-sell pitch from a live person.
They don’t want me visiting their website to learn more about the offer or to enroll online as it would be too easy for me to say “no.”