Bad advertisements

I subscribe to the three major audiophile magazines, though as my system has improved, I care less, read less.

Yesterday as I paged through a new issue I saw a full page ad for speakers.
On a beach. With a woman. Now I love beaches and women, but I wonder why this is a good way to advertise? As I look closer, I think the speakers have been photoshopped into the picture.

So how do you advertise speakers? Some show a pair aimed improperly with no wires. Some show a listener clearly far out of any possible sweet spot, enraptured.

Golden Ear gets points as they show a transparent view with explanations of what’s inside.

A cable manufacturer shows a snazzy sports car opposite their latest. What are they up to? Drool transference?

How about a black amp box against a black background? Or black foam in a dark home theater room?

Or speakers fronting a marble fireplace wall? Lifestyle of the rich and famous? Well, in that one there’s what appears to be whiskey ready to dull the very likely impression of bad reflections.

A woman leans back enraptured. The speaker (with wire!) appears about fifteen feet to her side. The ad implies next generation users. No way could that sound good.

For several issues, a major manufacturer of amps ran a very bad quality picture of their latest and greatest.

Who thinks this stuff up?

I’m sure the magazines are thrilled with the ‘buy.’ They won’t say, hey, that sucks.

Lately, I spend as much attention on the ads as the reviews. Just looking for what’s out there that perhaps I should be aware of.

Selling is usually about emotion, I understand that, but honestly, many of the ads I see are either bad attempts at that or just amateurish.

One of my favorites is that headphone listeners (usually a beautiful woman) - including HPs in studio recording situations (the singer at a mic) are always touching or holding one or both cans, something I only do when taking them on or off.

In the same vein/artery it’s not uncommon to see a publicity picture of a singer at a microphone singing… but the mic is unplugged !

I don’t read any HiFi magazines or consume any HiFi advertising. Short of some of Paul’s enthusiastic marketing of his products on this website, I take all of it with more than a few grains of salt.

I prefer to listen to this:

Rather than read bucket loads of marketing mumbo jumbo.

Hahaha. It’s Cigar Aficionado’s fault. But it doesn’t work for audio enthusiasts because the simple act of dedicated listening wouldn’t stand up in the marketer’s head. So as usual, the oldest trick in the book is used. Social Status and Strata. As Barkley said before…
…”Anything else would be uncivilized”

I’m having fun on this site tonight.
I’m just giggling: What??? No shielded cables??? What??? This is what we paid for four years at Berkeley??? What??? You gotta admit it’s funny!!!

I think that music gets better in hi res…

This is without words for me. Not only that the amp in the middle itself looks like a truck, they even put the subjects on a street…

For me, this is another example of one either likes the McIntosh aesthetic–or not.

In all seriousness, this is a product category that’s hard to create original and truly compelling imagery for. I’m a professional photographer and more than once I’ve looked at audio ads and thought “that’s kinda cheesy” and then I think, “Ok, come up with a better idea that hasn’t been seen too many times already.” Lets face it, speakers, amplifiers, etc. are only slightly more visually exciting than dishwashers and vacuum cleaners. Automotive photographers have it easy by comparison. I agree all the examples cited aren’t the best examples of product photography. However, hiring really good graphic designers and photographers isn’t cheap and few if any audio brands have the resources to devote to hiring photographers and designers who can create content that looks truly top tier. I think Paul at PS Audio has the right idea: light the products well, position products and camera to accurately show what they look like, avoid silly story lines, forced analogies, and overwrought references to the swooning ecstasy you’re going experience listening to the product.


show me the front, then show me the back in detail. that should do.


I like this company’s marketing strategy.

Rega Research have never advertised their products.
Below is a statement from Paul Darwin, Head of UK sales.

Just for clarification purposes, Rega have never, in our 43 year history, paid for a single advertisement in any media publication, on line web site, blog or anywhere else for that matter.

I think that may well disappoint some people who would prefer the conspiracy theories and hopefully proves that What Hi Fi reviewers are completely independent and free to write as they find and not at all influenced by their advertising department or the spend from audio companies, which is indeed as we would all hope and expect.

Yes, personally, it may be disappointing that What HiFi do not like our loudspeakers, per se, but that’s life.


Paul Darwin
Rega Research.

I think the MAC example is a really bad one of a collage / patch work of simple elements. Even other most basic perspectives like this one are much nicer imo. And I think MAC gear isn’t difficult to put into an interesting or even magical looking perspective.

Less is more. I much prefer taking the Zen approach to advertising.
After all, if you can’t sell something on it’s merits, then it isn’t worth purchasing.