Cut to the Chase

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Company: Discover Business Card, Riverwoods, Ill. Agency: Martin Agency, Richmond, Va. Market: Small businesses Quick chase: The inscription/headline on the door of a white cargo van says: "You started your company to be your own boss. With a Discover Business Card you'll keep it that way." It also suggests that Discover has some keen insights into the mind-set of its target audience-small-business people. Good ads evince a sense of empathy for their audience. They essentially say: "We understand you." After striking a bond of understanding with the smartly crafted visual and headline, copy pours on the rewards, which include online expense tracking and cash-back bonuses. Along the way, the copy speaks to its entrepreneurial audience in a tone that sounds as if it's one friend telling another about a good thing. Clue: Use the Discover Business Card to buy a set of mud flaps for the van.

Company: Adobe, San Jose, Calif. Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco Market: Sales and marketing executives Quick chase: Although this interactive ad for Adobe's Breeze, a Web conferencing system, won't win any awards for visual magnetism, it did win us over with its ability to tell a great story in great detail once it attracted us to its landing pages. Green boxes in the ad spring to life to highlight a particular feature of Breeze, such as its ability to present graphic information or to collect a list of people attending a Webinar. What this ad may lack visually it more than makes up with the depth of information available on the landing pages that sell the product in a logical and convincing manner. Clue: Web conferencing suffers from a reputation for maddening glitches, but this ad seems reassuring thanks to its sharp focus and simplicity.

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