More on advertising . . .
An advertising series on CTA buses is intended to reinforce ComEd’s commitment to customer service. The ad in the series that stands out to me shows the reddened face of a fat, bearded, frost-covered man in hard hat and coveralls. The accompanying quote is:
I work outside in the cold so you can stay inside where it’s nice and warm.CTA transit ad
There’s an obvious problem here — where or how he works has nothing to do with whether I can stay inside. This is a copywriter trying to come up with a cadence that sounds good and uses “outside” and “inside” but failing to make sense. This is one of those shortcomings that brilliant people in advertising are prone to: sacrificing sense to cleverness.
Next, there’s the photo — the very stereotype of a Caucasian working-class man. He’s fat. He’s bearded. He has beady eyes. He looks like the last grade he passed was in single digits. All he’s missing is a loud mouth (it’s a print ad, after all) and chewed-up cigarette dangling from it (no one but Hollywood shows smoking any more).
Finally, the overt message — there is nothing subtle about it — is not one of customer service, but of class. This stereotypical working guy represents a class of workers whose comforts, even safety, are secondary to yours. Aren’t you lucky there are people like him around to keep the electricity humming and that people like you never have to experience what it’s like to be people like him?