Thursday, June 18, 2009

When advertising goes wrong

There is surely no business more confused about its advertising messages than Britain's favourite price comparison website, confused.com. One of their current posters on the tube in London captures the supposed views of a happy customer with the following quote: 'I couldn't believe the choice. There's loads of big brands.'

I've personally never felt quite that committed and enthusiastic about the process of purchasing insurance products, but maybe I'm in a minority. Perhaps millions of people have a little extra spring in their step because they've managed to trouser a couple of quid comparing Admiral with Direct Line. It's the substance of the message rather than the general tone that I find hopelessly misguided though.

The idea of confused.com is that we're all confused, right? We're sick of the bewildering choices we're forced to make. And we're cynical about the claims of all the big brands. We therefore head for a comparison site that makes the choices for us and judges products purely on value rather than the marketing or branding budget that's been thrown at them.

Why would anyone who visited confused.com be pleased by the level of 'choice'? And why would they celebrate the presence of the big brands, whose dominance of the marketplace is one of the main reasons for the emergence of the price comparison sites in the first place?

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