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Home  > Article

The Best Ads Might Not Even Be Ads

By Gregg Rosenzweig
Talent Zoo

What makes a good ad? It's a question that's been grunted over since the first hieroglyph got etched onto a cave wall making cavemen aware of the "half-off" boulder sale nearby.

And it's a question that I, as a copywriter, am asked to deal with on a daily basis.

In the age of iPods, DVRs, PDAs, LCDs and cell phones, one could argue that the debate over what composes strong advertising is hotter than ever with consumer attention so divided. So, instead of talking ads, I thought I'd stir the debate by reminding the Talent Zoo crew of the most memorable images that seized my attention in 2006 - and what action they briefly explore what moves people to spend.

Here are the top five images that stopped me cold in 2006:

5.?The Image: A Kobe Bryant 18-foot overtime buzzer beater.

I'm a sucker for good drama - and no other NBA player supplies it like Kobe Bryant. It was Game 4 of the 2006 NBA playoffs against Phoenix. Taking the ball off the jump and dribbling to "his spot" (which is seemingly every square of hardwood), draining the game-winning jumper and doing that classic fist pump. The eruption from the Staples Center crowd still gives me goose bumps.

What I Bought: A digital copy of this game from Google for $3.95.

4.?The Image: Killed and Injured U.S. Soldiers in Iraq.

Transmitting bright, revealing images of the injured U.S. military in Iraq, my HDTV spilled heartache, confusion and agony over missing limbs into my living room on the HBO documentary, Baghdad ER. I wanted to look away, but to do that would be to deny our country's current plight, and unfortunate reality.

What I Spent: A $20 donation to

3.?The Images: Mel Gibson and Michael Richards - dead heat.

In the era of reality TV, it's hard to believe that anything said on TV (or YouTube) can still make someone's jaw drop. In this department, these two sound-bitten celebs made my mouth go not just agape, but spill a puddle of drool, with their classic cases of bad judgment and uncensored hate.

What I Didn't Buy: A ticket to Apocalypto or the Seinfeld Season 7 DVD.

2.?The Image: A homeless man rummaging through my alley dumpster.

Nothing puts the halt on my petty problems more than someone who's got it much worse than me. Upon seeing this sad image of a middle-aged man pillaging a germ-infested dumpster for recyclables and a day's pay, I did the least I could do in that moment: Stop thinking about myself.

What I Gave: All the empty cans of soda, cat food and bottles I'd saved up in my garage and a few minutes of genuine human interaction. I'm pretty sure it wasn't enough, though.

1.?The Image: A little pink stick with a positive message.

A measly e.p.t. Pregnancy Test meaning I would be a father in 2007 (responsible for sending life-changing messages to a rapidly growing carbon copy of me) caught my attention in a way no outdoor billboard ever would. What did that powerful little stick prove - that condom advertising isn't working hard enough? Maybe. Upon further review, it apparently means I'll be a dad - and is definitely the most potent image I'll remember from 2006.

What I bought: A lot of "How To" books at Borders.

What do these five instances prove - that traditional advertising is dead? No. I'm sure some force beyond nature is responsible for my holiday purchase of an iPod Nano.

But it does show that people (like me) are often moved by the unexpected. And that's what we, as advertisers, need to keep striving for: the unexpected. No matter what comes through our aural and retinal passageways, the most provocative message is the one that hits further south - in the heart or gut. is the online destination for both job seekers and employers in the communications industry. It's also a must for up-to-the minute content on industry trends, news, career guidance, or just to schmooze. Find a better life with Talent Zoo (

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