The Math of Ads

FamilyI just heard a radio ad for a product for “women, men, and kids”. It’s just the sort of thing that gets me thinking about the minds of advertising designers, and wondering how they decide what wording to use. There’s the old saying about women and children first, after all, so why this particular ordering of humanity? Ad writers probably don’t give it much thought sometimes, but ads are usually so careful in their language that it’s obviously calculated. This seems like it must have been the product of careful calculation.

I did the math, and I think I’ve figured out what it probably was:

1. You have to mention women before men, that goes without saying. Somebody might think you’re sexist if you don’t.

2. You could mention children first, but that would sound like a sort of reverse hierarchy– children, women, men– from small to large, as it were. Besides, children aren’t going to boycott you for ageism.

3. That gives you two options: “men, kids and women”, which sounds strange somehow, and puts men first, which violates the first consideration, or “women, men, and kids”, which sounds slightly less strange, and, although it puts kids last, which could be undesireable, puts women first, without implying any hierarchy of importance.

Do you ever find yourself thinking about this sort of thing?

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~ by lolarusa on December 20, 2007.

2 Responses to “The Math of Ads”

  1. Interesting per se but I think most people never listen to these ads in the first place. I do not remember the last time I took notice of a radio ad. Admitted, I do not often listen to commercial stations.

  2. I wonder how many products are used by all three groups anyway? I remember seeing an Avon add years years ago for family-size roll-on deodorant. Yuck!

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