You Just Proved Signs Work! Why This Ad Is Completely Useless

September 27, 2014 1 Comment

This post is going to be a bit of a rant that turns into an informative and educational piece on copywriting….at least I hope that’s what happens.

The issue begins with bus bench signs. I’m not sure if you’ve seen the ads on bus benches that proclaim, “You Just Proved Signs Work,” but here in the GTA they’ve been around for awhile. This advertisement promoting the use of signs to market your business drives me crazy for a couple of different reasons.

The Three C’s of Failure 

I should start by saying I understand the concept. The advertiser is saying that the fact you are reading the sign on the bus bench proves they are an effective way to promote your business. You’re reading it, so it works!

What a creative and clever way to get a point across!

Unfortunately, creative and clever make up two-thirds of the three C’s, with cute being the last one. Anyone with experience in the direct response industry knows that cute, clever and creative are considered the three C’s of failure.

Your idea may seem brilliant and you may get copious pats on the back for your creative genius or maybe even an award or two, but it almost always falls flat where it counts the most. 

What It Really Proves

You see, the “You Just Proved Signs Work” ad only proves that people read signs. And it probably didn’t take a big marketing campaign to figure that out. 

If no one calls the number on the sign and uses them to promote their business, then the ad is completely useless. The bus bench signs only work if they result in a lead or a conversion for the company using them.

This message is assuming that because you read the sign, you’re going to follow through and become a customer of the business. And that simply isn’t true. It’s ridiculous, in fact. Unless the person reading the sign takes action, it only proves that people read signs.

So…Do They Work or Not?

Let’s keep in mind, I am ranting about this particular ad and how it is presented. Do I think bus bench signs can be an effective way to market your business? Of course they can! But you have to always be conscious of the fact that they only “Work” if the people reading them contact you and become a customer.

If someone walking or driving by sees your bus bench sign and doesn’t take any action, it only “Worked” to lighten your bank account and take up some space. And if you’ve been told that it’s not meant to produce results now…turn and run away as fast as you can!

There is always a way to make your ads relevant, so they get you the results you want, and it usually begins and ends with the copy. If you think that one of those bus bench signs is a good idea, don’t be one of the many whose sign just sits there without producing any real results.

Figure out what you want it to do, then create the ad that will make it happen! If you’re not sure, we can help.

End of rant. Have a nice day 

P.S. If you want to know whether the “You Just Proved Signs Work” campaign was actually successful in getting companies to advertise on bus benches….you’ll have to give them a call and ask. This was just a rant.

1 Response


September 16, 2019

Hey there,

i guarantee you that if you were to advertise your services on that bench and offer to give them away for free, your phone would be ringing off the hook. the problem is not with the medium, it is with the message and the industry you are advertising. as a media planner, i have seen these work miracles and i have also seen them fail. they are good at generating brand awareness, they can be good at generating leads if you do it well.

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