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Are you wondering what B(AD) means? Well, let me tell you. It's me being clever and creating one word out of two. It's a combination of the words BAD and AD. Nifty huh? Like Bad Ad. If you're thinking right now that it seems kind of stupid and a bit self-indulgent, you'd be correct. And if it took you a few seconds to figure out, you're not alone. These days, this seems to be an example of popular advertising. Like the billboard I saw today promoting my undergrad alma mater, University of Central Florida. I didn't have a camera with me, so I recreated the billboard for you to see. Trust me, I'm not making this up. Oh, and I should mention, I stared at it for 10 seconds before I got it, and even then, only with some assistance from my wife. ucfbillboard.jpg They did include the logo and slogan (which makes no sense either - UCF stands for opportunity - I'm still trying to figure that out, but for the life of me I can't find an C or a F in opportunity). Even more comical, they probably paid their agency (I won't name names) big bucks for this small idea. And they're probably feeling pretty good about this outdoor advertisement right now. Somebody thinks they're real clever. In all honesty, this is probably OK for UCF and other major companies and institutions. Not as if they're going to enroll any students as a result, but maybe they'll boost morale or somehow improve their brand equity. I'm not sure what the result will be or is supposed to be. But I'm confident they can afford it. You, however, cannot. And that's my big beef. Small business owners always seem to overcomplicate the marketing process and beat themselves over the head trying to come up with something clever in an effort to copy what they see big advertisers doing. My best friend from my school days is a fellow who is a brand manager for a major pharmaceutical firm. He no longer lives in town, so we only visit a couple times a year. Well, he stopped by the other evening and we were chatting about how frustrated he gets with his highfalutin ad agency and their insatiable desire to come up with witty, esoteric, metaphorical ads. What happened to clarity? Sheeeez. Let's all just stop screwing around trying to be clever or cute or appear real smart to our buddies and just get to the point. Clarify, reduce friction. Captivate, invigorate, motivate. L(EARN) accomplishes none of these. Not to mention, why should your prospects have to waste their time trying to figure out what your ad means? Or perhaps, more importantly, why would they?