The Hired Pens: We Write with Our Fingers

Dear Citgo,

I walk by your billboard, “Citgo is Good Gas,” several times a week and keep meaning to ask you about it. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I’ve never considered whether or not one brand of gasoline is of a higher quality than another brand.

In advertising speak, “quality” isn’t a point of differentiation for you. It would sort of be like us running an ad that said something like, “The Hired Pens. We know all the letters.” Just like your customers assume all gas is the same, our customers assume all copywriters know the alphabet. So in both cases the ad does nothing to help you (or us) stand out.

For an ad to work, it needs to highlight what makes you different from your competition. And it has to be something your potential customers care about. For a gasoline company, those things might be price, free stuff you give away at your service plazas or your commitment to environmental stewardship.

But maybe I just don’t understand your ad. (Which in itself is a problem.) Maybe what you mean by “Citgo is Good Gas” is that you do good in the community? If so, this might be a design issue. That guy in the black T-shirt looks like a real jerk. The kind of guy who wouldn’t stop to help a little old lady cross the street, let alone be a part of some Citgo-sponsored charitable organization that would make me feel good about buying your product. So, if this is what you mean, simple fix: Replace that dude with a picture of your charity of choice. Done.

You’re welcome for the unsolicited advice,

Anna Goldsmith

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  1. Pmoss3us2003 says:

    It becomes increasingly laughable to read Ms. Goldenpen’s rantings. Some day I expect to see her as a little old lady scolding billboards while scattering stale bread crumbs for the birds. At least she’s cleaned up her act and calls the male model a “jerk” this time instead of a “prick,” an appellation she assigned to a previous model she found distasteful. At the end of the day, sigh, Ms. Goldenpen is shallow, as shallow as the ad she is scolding.

    • Anonymous says:

      Guess we won’t be using you for any more projects, Bob. I had no idea you felt this way. I always liked you and am sorry the feeling was not mutual. 

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