The phrase "new and improved" is among the most cliched in advertising, a business notorious for overusing certain words and phrases. Cliches essentially say nothing as they wash past the audience. So how do you introduce a new product or an improvement to the product without resorting to the cliche?
You can do it subtly, the way Microsoft Corp. has for the rollout of its Office 2007 suite in an ad featuring a man walking jauntily along a downtown sidewalk, briefcase in hand. He is bathed in a flood of morning light penetrating the canopy of foliage.
To establish a sense of a new beginning and a new direction, the headline and subhead read: "Day 1: Forget about yesterday. It's a whole new day." It suggests to the readers that there's something new to get excited about. It could also suggest that Microsoft is tossing Office 2003, the predecessor product, down the memory hole.
What the ad doesn't say is what's improved about the new product. But rank has its privilege. Microsoft, the world's leading software maker, produces a product that is so ubiquitous it hardly requires a detailed description. If Microsoft is enhancing a product so universally accepted in the corporate workplace, then what more needs to be said?
The genuinely curious can accept Microsoft's invitation in the ad to visit the Office 2007 Web site and study all the new product features. The larger story is that Microsoft is offering something new and better, without actually having to say so. And it does it well in this ad.
RainMaker, which makes software for the legal field, introduces Platinum 8.0 for improved financial management, practice management and business intelligence. The headline and visual of a $100 bill amid blades of green grass all but say to the target audience that there's money to be had by specifying this product.
But more needs to be said at this introduction than was said with Microsoft's introduction of Office 2007. Unlike Microsoft, RainMaker is not a household name, not even in the legal field. As a result, RainMaker needs to take the time to explain what makes its new product unique. That should be done in the text, which only consists of bulleted copy.
The ad's call to action smartly invites readers to phone for a consultation or to visit its Web site, but the copy block must do a better job of motivating the audience to take the next step.
Doculex, which makes an electronic discovery product for the legal business, introduces its latest product with the image of a cresting wave. Advertising images of cresting waves are nearly as cliched as "new and improved." In the headline, Doculex says that its new product will create more than a ripple.
There's more copy than in the RainMaker ad; but the tone is brag and boast, and the gray type on a dark green background is less than inviting. This is not an effective way to introduce a new product.
The whimsical image of a squadron of happy-faced snowmen assembled between rows of servers in a clean room is a creative way for Intel to introduce its new quad-core processor. The image works well with the headline: "Multiply energy efficiency and maximize cooling." We like the headline's promise, and we like how the copy supports the promise of a reward:
"The new Quad-Core Intel Xeon Processor 5300 Series delivers up to 150% more performance than the competition. Based on the ultra-efficient Intel Core microarchitecture it's the ultimate solution for managing runaway cooling expenses."
The young man standing in the foreground doesn't bring much to the party. While he adds a human dimension, he's nothing more than a distraction. The snowmen should ice him.