Monday, June 7, 2010

BNY Mellon: I liked your "truth ad" until you used that word

BNY Mellon Wealth Management has a catchy new print ad asking "Can you handle the truth?" 

I love the simplicity of "Can you handle the truth?"

You can view one version of the ad on BNY Mellon's website. However, I first saw this family of ads in the print version of The Wall Street Journal. 

Print vs. online ad
The Wall Street Journal version uses the same big "truth" box, but it is mostly better than the online version.

It's better in the sense that much of its text is simpler and more direct than in the online version. I imagine that individuals seeking financial advice would find it very appealing. Let's compare the two versions. 

Print version
The truth is most investors' portfolios did not handle the past years' market volatility well. A more alarming truth is that most plans have not been changed to mitigate future risks or capture opportunities.

We have helped many investors with an honest assessment of their current portfolio and plan. May we help you?
The first sentence is disarmingly honest. At least in my eyes. 

The language charmed me until I got to "mitigate." If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know I don't like "big words" and "mitigate" is one of my pet peeves. Why couldn't the writers substitute "ease," "cut," "reduce," or even "manage" for "mitigate," depending on what they meant? I suspect that a lawyer or compliance person pushed for "mitigate."


Online version 
The first line of the online ad's text--which you can read in the indented section below--is much stiffer and institutional. It doesn't sound like something a human being would say in conversation. I've italicized the words I don't like in this ad's text below.  

The rest of the text is better. I like the second sentence. However, in the fourth sentence, "complimentary analysis" suffers when compared with the "honest assessment" of the first ad. Also, "please contact us" isn't as appealing as "May we help you?"
Fundamental changes in the financial landscape have rendered many investment plans null and void.

Your plan may be one of them.

Let us help you learn the truth about whether your portfolio is positioned for the years to come.
To get started with a complimentary analysis of your investment plan, please contact us.
Related posts
* Timely, creative financial ad from Northwestern Mutual
* No more fancy-pants prose, please
Financial writers clinic: Getting rid of "mitigate"
* Can you make a case for "mitigate"?

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Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

2 comments:

  1. Bessemer Trust had an ad in the Sunday NYT that completely avoided questionable words. Kudos to them!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Here's a link to The Trust Advisor's blog post on wealth mgt ads: http://thetrustadvisor.com/news/ads

    ReplyDelete

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