CAMPAIGN NOTEBOOK 1: Nivea Roll-On, Code 48H and Other Matters


Yesterday as I maneuvered through the drenching rain on Bank Anthony, the crawling pace of the drive compelled me to pay some attention to my surroundings. The biggest attraction was this huge billboard close to the sprawling Lagos Country Club. There was this lovely picture of a young couple, big and bold. The first attraction for me was the Afrocentric Ankara material the man’s shirt was made of. And I though to myself:Seems our art directors are beginning to pay a little more attention to the delicate matter of cultural assertiveness. Then I paid some attention to the lady: Wife like young lady as we like to phrase it around here. She had that effortless homely look and a gay smile that would melt the heart of any man with his head properly fitted on his neck. She has on a simple black and white sleeveless dress made of crepe, it seems, the colors split down the middle.

She seems like the kind of woman you like to go home to after a hard day’s job.

Then my attention shifted to the message: 48H DOUBLE PROTECTION.

I keep wondering what this 48H was supposed to mean. Then, after a little search, I saw, in smaller lettering…”from sweat and stains”. And that is my first bone. Even driving at a crawl, I mean, I had like five minutes to study that ad, it still took some looking and thinking to arrive at the insight that I was supposed to read the 48H part(in huge type) together with the relatively tiny “from sweat to stains”. Lesson No 1: If you want me to read the message as one, please run them in same type size. No arguments. Once you change the sizes, I have to pause or even stop and consider the meaning of the sentence. Don’t forget that in this space, we have just a few seconds to go!

In all this, the 48H mystery became unknotted only after a thorough search revealed the pack shot of the product cleverly hidden in the lower right corner of the ad the legend “NIVEA” in a blue circle right on top by the left.

Yes, some brilliant chap is going to argue that those elements are obvious enough. Maybe. But think about it. Let me go to my lesson No 2: It’s pointless using 48H when you can simply say 48hours! What are you doing? Trying to reduce the number of the words? Or testing the intelligence of your audience? Or their word altitude? Stop that joke!

The last point I want to make, lesson 3: an outdoor ad can only have one prime focus point. Not 2, not 3. So yes you have that in that lovely award winning shot of the handsome guy and the lovely wife like lady. If what you are selling is some high fashion that’s ok, but if you planning to sell some more packs of that great product, think again.

But while I was mulling aloud about all these, my mate in the car cuts in: “48 hours? Does it mean the guy who wears the roll on will not need to have his bath the next morning?”

I mean, 48 hours is a good but NEEDLESS Promise. Nobody is going to be depending on his roll-on beyond 24 hours, except maybe, soldiers on the battlefront who can’t get a bath in 24 hours.

And that, my friends, is no laughing matter.

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1 Comment

  1. Hello readers, I have just been informed by a reader that NIVEA 48H is actually the name of the product which makes it inviolable. That’s a good piece of info. However the little challenge remains that on an outdoor media it’s still cryptic. If it’s possible to brea these things down, it helps to do so.

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