List ads.

Driving in my car the other day I heard a radio ad for the New Jersey Dept. of Tourism. It was a prime example of a bad “list ad.” What’s a list ad?  It’s a long recitation of features and benefits, separated by commas, that tries very hard not to leave anything out. Even so, I bet those brave product managers who approve list ads often feel they have left something out. Ooh, that hollow feeling.
Here are just a few of the things strung together in the NJ Tourism ad: “ You can hike the Adirondack trail, visit a revolutionary battlefield, raft down the Delaware, visit antique stores along river towns,….” No doubt there were the obligatory beach and skiing mentions.
As someone who has actually hiked the Kittattinny Ridge in NJ – an amazingly beautiful hike – I can say with certainty that it deserves its own ad. That goes for the antique stores. And the rafting. But no, we got a list. Decision makers want to include the most features per media dollar they can. When you say everything, you say nothing. It doesn’t work in TV and it certainly doesn’t work in radio.