Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lazy Goldman

For art directors – even whole advertising agencies – see this simple lesson in how to ruin an ad message. The Asset Management arm of Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), “the world’s most prestigious securities firm” according to, has a new print advertisement.

In case you can’t read the scan, its headline proclaims, “With more choice, it’s easier to tailor your portfolio.”

To play off this headline, an art director has used eight spools, each with a different colored thread. Eight photos, eight colors; fair enough. If you expect the average magazine reader to look at your ad for, say, two seconds. This art director was lazy, though.

Each of the eight photos is the same – except for the color of the thread. Take as close a look as you can. Each spool is the same as the others, including the printing on top. Each needle is stuck into the thread on the spool in precisely the same place, and threaded identically.

The art director (or production artist, or whoever) simply Photoshopped a different color onto each picture. Job over.

By running this ad, Goldman Sachs demonstrates that it will “tailor your portfolio” with pretty much the identical products they use for every other client. “We believe it’s important,” says the ad copy, “to consider diversification not only across different investment areas, but within those areas as well.”

Because some communications person wanted to cheap out (or sleep in), Goldman Sach’s important diversification consists of…different colors.

How much do you think the multi-billion-dollar outfit paid for this ad?


Richard Laurence Baron said...

I apologize in advance for the clumsy jpg - the ad appeared in a magazine printed on very thin stock and there's considerable show-through.

S Reeves said...

Zzzzz... The copy, design and idea are all kinda of tired. What type of financial diversity they are speaking about in this ad? Is this really news?

Unfortunately, the financial industry is burdened with providing a quarter page worth of disclaimer text on all ads. This doesn't help the cause either.

Bob De León said...

The trend of the "visual pun" idea does nothing more than support the stock photography industry.

If I were the market--I doubt I'd read this ad. It's "too expected".

howard sherman said...

While I responded immediately to the color, I see exactly how the message gets muted by lack of follow through. Interesting point.

Richard Laurence Baron said...

"No, we will not give in to mass-market vanillaism."
--Superb 2008 BMW ad

Shannon said...

I've seen this a thousand times before, and it may not have been the art director's fault. Somebody with their fingers on the project's purse strings may have decided that using one stock photo was a clever way to come in under budget on the photography.

It's typical of smaller agencies scraping and clawing for every penny they can squeeze out of a job, and of bottom line-obsessed non-creatives who develop these clever ideas, and then shrug their shoulders and ask what the big deal is when people question their decisions.

It's so difficult to qualify creative and link it to results that many non-creatives in the industry have simply stopped trying. They don't get creative, they never will, so what is left, then, is the cheapest solution.

Ken Bullock said...

The ad in general does not draw you into it. I have to agree with several of the comments already made. I am sure that their is some level of purse string tightening that occurred but that does not excuse the art director/designer from their responsibilities (to the client and industry).
Even a small ad agency/design firm can dig in the couch cushions and find enough money to go buy some spools, thread, a few needles and shoot it on the cheap. This reeks of the lethargy you see in our industry that gives the overall creative industry a bad name.

Terry Teutsch said...

I agree with you. However, maybe they had a small budget... :^) They probably were considering a two color ad, when someone in the meeting (an intern no doubt) reminded the creative staff that their headline was “With more choice, it’s easier to tailor your portfolio.” So they decided on a 4-color ad.

miro slodki said...


I think they could have picked a more compelling visual to set off their portfolio tailoring/asset clustering capability

For a big outfit like this
creative is very uninteresting