Don’t Waste Your Customers’ Time
I regularly pass a bus stop sporting a poster for Lifetime’s new-ish series “Against the Wall.” It shows a woman wearing casual Friday clothing and a smirk, standing behind a table of taciturn uniformed men and a wistful Kathy Baker (who I mistook for Laurie Metcalf in the poster). The tagline for the series is “Her job is hitting too close to home.”
Here’s the thing: this poster tells me nothing about the series. Is she a defense attorney? A social worker? A crusading journalist? Are the men cops? Members of a European military force? Dog catchers? Is Kathy Baker their mother? Is she the social worker?
I finally went to Lifetime’s website to look. Not because I really want to know more about the series, but because I’m so annoyed by the generic, characterless campaign. “Against the Wall” could be about anything (for example, in 2010 it was about a high-tech game park), and the tagline sounds like it was created by a committee. Here’s what the site says:
“Against the Wall” follows the trials and tribulations of Abby Kowalski (Carpani), a single Chicago police officer who finally scores her dream job as a detective; but it turns out a nightmare for her close-knit family of cops. As the newest hire in the department’s Internal Affairs division, Abby suddenly finds herself at odds with her fellow officers, including her father and three brothers. She must now figure out how she can pursue her dream of being a detective while keeping her family intact.
So why not pick a title and develop a campaign that gives passersby some sort of hint? Call the show “A Question of Trust” (although maybe that’s a little too “Lifetime” even for Lifetime) and write a tagline like “Can she be loyal to her family…and the truth?” And maybe clip a badge to her belt, so that I have a clue what she does for a living.
What’s the lesson? Be distinctive. Let your customers know who you are, what you do, and why they should want to do business with you. Don’t make them work to figure it out. If you waste their time, they’ll be someone else’s customers. Watching some other network’s cop show.