Your ads may be what tags you as a geezer

intel_ad_wsjTake a look at this ad from Intel that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on March 24, 2009. What do you see? Look closer as it will become very obvious in a minute.

If you saw an ad that touted how forward-thinking Intel is, that they embrace new ideas, that they support science and are proud of the brilliance of the Intel Science TalentSearch, then you are dead wrong. What I saw was an ad from a clueless corporation that was unaware of the changes happening around them. Geezers, you may say.

What? Where do I get that? The ad is great, a white space of a lightbulb signifying a brilliant idea, superimposed on a stylized circuit board. Lots of white space, a nice air-y font, a web address, that reflect glow thing on the artwork. What? I’m confused.

Take a harder look. Look harder. Do you see it?

The lightbulb is incandescent. Incandescent light bulbs are the past; energy-saving fluorescent bulbs are the future. One simple little artwork change and Intel would have made a very, very powerful statement without saying a word.

I noticed this little thing immediately because I had seen this previously. My impression of Intel’s brand was “geezer” without even reading the ad copy. Intel had no way of knowing what my reaction would have been, but they have almost no excuse for not noticing the rapid change of the shape of the common household lightbulb. Surely they are aware that incandescent is dead, like the typewriter or the fax machine, both things which any ad man would be laughed out of the room for pitching as a brand-identifier for a tech company.

How many ads does your organization run that robs you of a forward-thinking, technology-embracing place to work? (If you are a book binding shop, this probably doesn’t apply to you.) How many times has your staff said things like “Information superhighway”, “cyberspace”, “Web 2.0”, “I know computer”, or various other “geezerisms” that peg your organization as firmly branded as Luddites?

To attract new blood — whether as clients, employees or members — your organization must be willing to embrace and explore new concepts and ideas. To not do so is to not grow. While you may reject things like using Twitter as a viable customer experience tool due to some operational or legal reason, to not explore it or worse, to be oblivious to it is not good business.

Look at your ads. Put them in front of young people. Or be even more daring, throw up ideas on a space like Posterous (or this) and ask for opinions via Twitter. You’ll get them. You may not use them, but at least you will avoid putting out “geezer” stuff.

Look at your job ads. Do they say “Come work for us” or do they say “Come here to rot and die in a cubicle”? Based on the ad for Intel, I would think twice about accepting a job offer from them (not that they would offer after reading this post.)

Everything you put out about your company matters. There are no small brand indicators, just like there are no small ideas. Even the incandescent ones.

But, some ideas need a little more light.