Advertising Failure: Why Context is so so important.

Topshop/Topman is a prestigious fashion retailer for women and men.

They are an international brand, with stores across Australia and Melbourne.

Advertising is a tricky art- and there are so many necessary considerations. Every medium is different, and must be used carefully to optimise branding.

Last week while in the city, I had the (un)fortunate experience of coming across one of their tram ads. This is attached below.

TopShop TopMan Advertising Failure

And here’s a closer look at two of their fabulous models:



Very attractive.

Well, once you look past the deformities, you can se obvious quality of clothing presented. This is very well done, but unfortunately the models do look very off.

Perhaps it is because of my personal experiences doing photo shoots which makes me cringe so much. This ad would have cost a small fortune to produce, shoot, print, and execute. Not to mention tram advertising fees. With it’s effect dampened by the facial distortion (or worse, negative brand image because consumers associate the brand with disfigurement) it is definitely not worth that money.

Contrast this ad with the bold Australia Post advertisement below:

Australian Post Tram Advertisement

Even if the windows were rolled down, it would go unnoticed. This ad was obviously designed with context in mind, so nothing can take away the original tram message.

Better yet, take a look at this National Geographic bus advertisement which uses tram elements to its advantage rather than ignore them.

National Geographic Tram Advertising

I have seen many other examples: such as one utilising windows where commuters actually form part of the ad. Another for a local university in Melbourne has images of people opening the tram doors- a metaphor for opening the doors to opportunity.

The take home here is that context is extremely important. Getting this aspect right requires a bit more effort, but is crucial for all advertising endeavours. Faces especially require additional care from vandalism (intentional or unintentional). Especially as summer approaches in Australia, the Topshop and Topman models are just going to look more and more disfigured.

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