No Disclaimer. No Kidding.
Footnotes, footnotes, footnotes. Disclaimers, disclaimers, disclaimers. Long strings of, often incomprehensible, words packed into corners and borders of our promotions. Taking up useful marketing space. Like mold invading a pristine slice of bread.
Consumers don’t want to read them. They assume the disclaimer takes away whatever sounds good in the headlines and descriptive copy. Likely, that’s true. For example, I got a mail piece that was a joint venture between JC Penny and MasterCard. The offer was $10 off a purchase in the store if I used the credit card.
Problem was, when I took out a magnifying glass to read the huge block of fine print better suited to the visual field of a nanobot, I wondered what was left to purchase. Seemed like every category in the store was excluded.
One of the most irritating situations I see or work with is when a client places an asterisk or some footnote indicator in a headline. The headline might as well say, “This is a great offer and we’re lying about it.” At least that’s the way a consumer reads it. Then stops reading.
So I smiled when I saw a checking account ad in the Sunday paper. It flaunts the asterisk. Makes it a joke. All to make a point.
As you see in the image, the ad says: No Disclaimers*
Follow the asterisk to the bottom of the ad and instead of disclaimer copy that takes away benefits, the copy begins, “You’re probably wondering, if this isn’t a disclaimer what is it? We decided to use the space the other banks are using to tell you about all the hoops you have to jump through for their special offer to tell you that our account is really free and so is the gift.”
It continues with a few more sentences describing the account’s benefits. That’s all. No disclaimer.
The trick is to get readers to go against their instincts and actually read a footnote. It might work here.
This is one time when reading the fine print really is beneficial.