I don't know if it's the popularity of Mad Men, or just the fact that I watch far too much tv, but I am fascinated with ads.
People spend thousands of dollars, more even, to get a campaign just right. And Donald Draper makes it looks so easy. Flicking off one-liners like they're ashes from his elegantly smoking cigarette. I don't know how he does it. His underlings come to him with what I believe is a super idea, and he picks it apart effortlessly, pointing out mistakes that I would never have seen.
But I see enough ads to know what speaks to me. I also fancy myself savvy enough to know when an ad is just plain awful.
Case in point, the new campaign for Dufferin Mall: "Dufferin Mall. Really."
Now, for those not familiar with this mall, I would describe it as, well, at best, "sketchy". It has some nice stores like Toys R Us, Winners, and H&M. Most of the stores, however, are the kind where plaid shirts and acid wash jeans have ruled supreme for the past 20 years, and are not just a nod to 80's fashion revival. They are trying to be family friendly, with a huge family washroom, and a small Early Years Centre. I visit there frequently on my way to Dufferin Grove Park, which is possibly the best park in the whole of the west end.
I see what they're trying to do. I see that they are trying to make themselves seem more upscale, more like a destination mall rather than a mall on the way to a destination. They are trying to be more hip. But this poster could not represent them less.
On a good day, I am the youngest, most attractive person there. (That should end the conversation right there....). Me, with my saggy jeans, un-made-up face and two screaming kids. I seriously doubt you could find an outfit like that in the mall - possibly at H&M - and you certainly can't find anyone who looks like that who would be caught dead there. Yes, they are trying to seem posh. But sometimes, though, you should bank on your strengths: a family friendly mall that offers some cost-effective alternatives.
All that aside, though, did no one - NO ONE - look at this ad and read it out loud the way I read it the first time I saw it:
"Dufferin Mall. REALLY??" (Insert tone of derision and contempt on last word.)
That's a bad ad. Really.