Annoying is the New Boring

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Louder and more irritating appears to be our unspoken code when trying to gain someones attention. It worked flawlessly as children, after all, and so it is no surprise that we employ the same methods in marketing and advertising. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that some of the most memorable ads are the ones that manage to annoy victims to the point of  utter powerlessness until they waive a white flag and surrender to the darn thing.

Adweek published a great article discussing the pink elephant in the room of Internet advertising. Zephrin Lasker writes that most folks admit that online advertisements are annoying; so annoying in fact that very few clicks are actually accounted for. Lasker notes that ads need to be “just disruptive enough” to lure people in but not so irritating folks want to toss their laptops out of a window upon clicking on them. He goes on to cite some interesting online ads that manage to be effective without screaming and yelling.

Lasker has a point, but I think the aggressive nature of online advertising can be echoed in everything from video games and music to beer commercials and professional sports. I’m far from a sociological expert, but a noticeable shift to “in yo’ face” ways of communication trickled into our conscience during the post 9/11 Toby Keith era and has bloomed into the primary way American’s are perceived and how we communicate. We encourage annoying behavior and outlandish acts with high rated reality hits.  We embrace loud and untalented personalities from the world of sports. It’s how we roll.

Yet Lasker is on to something here. There has to be ways of marketing that doesn’t make us want to leap in front of a spreeing Greyhound bus. Amazon’s Kindle, for example, has nicely craved out a niche and fan base so their recently launched ads are whimsical odes to love and the love of reading. Online campaigns for the product have pushed it as “the” Mother’s Day gift and have done so without so much as a whisper. has taken the magazine’s iconic style and wisely put simple ads for things their readers would be interested in upfront. Ads for Sex and the City 2 and a Vogue iPhone  app speak to the reader directly without bashing them over the head. Jones Soda is another company that always makes web surfers take another look but doesn’t need any bells and whistles to do so. Jones has an appropriately fun and cool Facebook page filled with videos discussion, and words of undying love for the quirkiest soda brand out there.

I firmly believe marketers can talk to customers without gettin’ all loud and red faced.  But what do you think? What online ads make you go postal? And which ones give you hope?

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