Cannon and the Perils of Not Printing

Cannon and the Perils of Not Printing


Why print an image or a document when you could look at it electronically?

Cannon is in the printing business, so it asks and answers this question for viewers.

The ad focuses not on the rewards of printing but the perils of not printing. Since viewers might be able to avoid the problem and still not do what the advertiser wants, advertisers normally emphasize the rewards of taking the desired action rather than the problem of not taking that action.  For example, showing weak people not drinking milk is less effective than showing strong people drinking milk. A weak person may choose a path to getting stronger other than drinking milk.

But this ad works nonetheless. It works, in part, because it opens on the recommended action—printing—while the chagrined clergyman says “never again.” The solution to the problem is clear from the beginning.

The ad works because the problem of not printing is an entertaining joke drawing viewers in and making them laugh rather than making them uncomfortable and encouraging them to turn away.

It works because the reward offered for printing is not physical or practical, but emotional—feel confident and avoid embarrassment.

An ad need not spell out what viewers can and will provide on their own. There is no need to print on the screen, “Don’t let this happen to you.” Cannon might have a little more faith in their potential customers. The explanation only weakens an otherwise effective ad. Fortunately that explanation is easy to miss.

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