Ad Dissection: SKF in Business Week

Business Week

Business Week

This is an ad that caught my eye recently while reading Business Week. Even as a marketing person, I don’t spend much time on ads. But this one is interesting and I wondered what you thought.

I wonder if this ad is effective in reaching it’s goal (whatever that might be)? Please keep in mind that I am only one Marketing/PR person and copywriter. Of course there are many of us and I am sure that there are just as many opinions. Your opinion is valuable too, and I look forward to hearing your comments on it if you choose to participate.

Here is the text on the ad: “Our care for the future is firmly rooted. At SKF, we’ve always applied our engineering knowledge to reduce friction in various kinds of machinery. Thanks for our informative bearing solutions, we help increase efficiency, ensure reliability and save energy. And we’ve been doing these things for more than a century. Today, our wide range of products and services all contribute to conserving natural resources and protecting the environment. This benefits everyone on the planet, for generations to come. And it helps create the kind of future we firmly believe in. The Power of Knowledge Engineering.” At the very bottom in small letters on the left is, “Visit us at”.

Here is more about SKF from their website: “The SKF Group is one of the leading global suppliers of products, solutions and services in the area comprising rolling bearings, seals, mechatronics, services and lubrication systems. The Group’s service offer also includes technical support, maintenance services, condition monitoring and training…SKF has 110 manufacturing sites distributed all over the world and its own sales companies in 70 countries…SKF was founded in 1907 and from the very beginning focused intensively on quality, technical development and marketing. The results of the Group’s efforts in the area of research and development have led to a growing number of innovations that has created new standards and new products in the bearing world.”

SKF appears to be a leader in their industry, and I am sure they have knowledgeable marketing people on board with them. It seems the ad’s goals are to:

  1. Ensure the customer of the environmental goals of the company.
  2. Enforce that their environmental impact will make a difference in many generations to come.

As a copywriter, I would have not left the reader hanging on the sentence, “And it helps create the kind of future we firmly believe in”. What future is that? Perhaps the goal there was to encourage to reader to go to the SKF website for more information. But to be honest, I’m not sure the ad is strong enough to draw many people there.

Other than the “hanging” at the end, the text of the ad works for me. The headline is good.

But the picture does not and this is the main reason that I pulled this ad out of Business Week to analyze it a little bit more.  The model is a beautiful girl-but with the red tree in the background makes it look like she is wearing a large cap of feathers or a strange costume tiara.  The peacock-look just is not working for me here.  Plus, it just seems a little basic to have a “girl” and a “tree” to indicate “ongoing generations” and “environment”.

What do you think?

9 thoughts on “Ad Dissection: SKF in Business Week

  1. It looks to me like the tree is supposed to be growing out of the child’s hair, representing the family that will eventually spring forth from her. I guess this is why the tree is the same color as her hair. I wish the copy was a little more direct. “Friction in various kinds of machinery” should I take that literally? Or, is that symbolic machinery?

  2. I agree on the text – although the hanging sentence didn’t bother me much. I think they could have left out “wide range of” products and services – “wide range of” sounds too pitchy. I like how the text moves along a timeline from a century ago to today – that works well I think.

    On the picture, I didn’t mind its obvious nature so much. I liked the connected through color palate/texture idea, and didn’t immediately think hat or peacock, though I can totally see that.

    Thanks for your take on it – really helps to see things from other vantage points.

  3. Good point, Yo, and I agree that it is vague. Perhaps you are correct on the point of the picture. Still seems odd, however.

    Metroknow, thanks for reading and commenting. “Pitchy” as in vague? Or too wide? Or too much like selling?

  4. Too much like selling/sales pitch. I think copywriters in general (myself included) get really insulated from reality with all the corpspeak they encounter – they don’t realize that customers don’t buy it/don’t care for sales pitches…

  5. Thanks, Metroknow. I agree with you. These days, I believe that most people automatically recoil if selling is obvious. The most effective selling comes from building a relationship, being a resource and never pushing.

  6. Thank you for your thoughtful post.

    At the risk of being contrarian, I can’t agree about this ad. It is the sort of international business communication that I would never read. I seems somewhat generic. Replace the SKF logo and it could come from almost any other corporation.

    There is also the slight cultural problem with the use of the term ‘rooted’ in the headline. In Australia and New Zealand (where I hail from) the term is used pejoratively to indicate that something is broken or not right – and never will be (though there are coarser similes).

  7. David, Thanks for reading. It appears that you agree with us. The ad is generic and you said you wouldn’t even read it. Therefore, it is be missing an important piece of the puzzle-drawing the reader to read more. Thanks for the thoughts on “rooted” and the cultural differences. Those are very important to note. From their site: “SKF has 110 manufacturing sites distributed all over the world and its own sales companies in 70 countries. SKF is also represented in 140 countries through some 15 000 distributors and dealers.” So cultural differences in language should have been considered in the ad development. Thanks for reading! -Julie

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