I was waiting at the corner of Arch and North this morning for the 54C. It was late, and when it finally rumbled around the corner near Kindred Hospital (what was once Divine Providence Hospital), I saw what I couldn't believe, but should have suspected, a bus board on the passenger side of the lavender (honest) bus, reading, "Achievement Rides the Bus".
I don't know if you've ever ridden the 54C in Pittsburgh but the last thing that rides that bus is achievement. A lot of mullet heads, a colony of mental health patients and few disoriented elderly populate the bus I ride. I'm guessing many of them have such bad credit that they don't even have a bank account.
But, PNC has begun this "Achievement" campaign and they're going to plaster it every where, even if it makes no sense. Or, perhaps it's some kind of positive thinking campaign. "If we tell them they're achievers, they'll become such and be forever indebted to PNC for helping them." In fact, I predict PNC will begin to label every thing and many people in western Pennsylvania with this achievement thing.
Who needs it more than the Pittsburgh Pirates? Most sportswriters predict that the Buccos will lose 100 games this year. With PNC on their side telling them that "Achievement is hitting a home run" they might only lose 90 games. And speaking of miss (or Miss), Big Ben from the Steelers can benefit as much as anyone in Pittsburgh from a positive thinking campaign, "Achievement stays away from women." I can see it on the sides of kegs at tailgate parties at Heinz Field or on the sides of Steeler players' helmets.
But, back to my daily transportation, the 54C, and PNC's meaningless advertisement, "Achievement Rides the Bus". Can anyone tell me that the message really offers the target audiences a benefit or differentiates PNC in a meaningful way from their competition? Can anyone prove to me that audiences who are overwhelmed with noise will see PNC's message and process it within a few seconds (and then take some action). Even if the audience is exposed to this campaign from enough frequency, will they make sense of these messages? I doubt it. But I offer this prediction: PNC and its agency will win an Addy or two (forget the CLIO) and all will be happy. They may even move the needle a little on name recognition and they will brag on that. But in the process of spending the millions of dollars they are spending on this campaign, they will help to make John Wanamaker, and his famous comment, seem like a real achievement, "I know half of my advertising is wasted, I just don't know which half."