Ads that Tease, Products that Let Down

Jul 2 , 2022
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at )

The advertising industry in Ethiopia has come a long way. They are not only getting better and more creative but carving out niches. Take the growth of teaser ads, where only brief information is given about the product to get people’s attention. The first product I remember doing this effectively at first was Anbessa beer. I remember seeing the posters everywhere in the city, wondering what the thing was and when the product's identity would be revealed. It got my curiosity.

Advertisements with teasers are remembered better by customers as they stick with us. It also makes one wonder what they are about, and a few even stick with us long after the product reveal. Some teasers are unexpected as they stir our imagination, although some advertisements do not capture the essence of their products and fail to live up to their ad spend.

Not every product is marketed through teaser ads or carried out through significant investments. In businesses in a competitive market, the marketing is carried out in their immediate surroundings, usually for people close to the seller. It is the case for vendors of electrical products.

Around Ambassador Theatre, approaching Churchill Street, one will notice a group of men sitting under a shade with a display of broken phone screens. At first glance, one might think they are selling phone cases. However, thanks to the loudspeakers next to them, we find that it is supposed to be “nanotechnology.” The guy’s voice is very convincing by itself. The advertisement makes the technology seem invincible.

The ad goes, “if a car drives on it or if you smash your phone with an axe, nothing will ever happen to your screen. We guarantee it. You can even try it with our phone. We will take full responsibility.”

The first time I heard it, I was cracking up. Really, taking an axe to my phone will not break it. As sceptical as I was, I decided to give it a try. After all, it was only 150 Br. The guy put a drop of liquid and then put my phone inside the coating machine. It was simple. I asked if this was supposed to protect my phone. He swore with his life that it works 110pc. I took his word with a grain of salt.

My phone slipped from my hand and fell a couple of times after that, but nothing happened to it. But I was not convinced as the falls were not from high lengths. I doubted the whole “nano” tech thing, so I put a glass cover on top of it. But that kept breaking. Today, my phone's fate lies with the vendors' coating.

Every time I get past the people who sell this, I get the urge to go to them and ask them to prove the idea to me but with their phone. Although the so-called nano-coating has been around for some time, the people in the business are not giving it up, which only means that people still fall for it or perhaps it works. Even though most people I know do not really believe the idea, they buy it either way to give the technology the benefits of the doubt.

Producers need to keep in mind that it is crucial to match the quality of their brands to their ad spend. Marketing alone costs an arm and a leg relative to the size of the business. Even some multinationals spend fortunes on advertisements even though their products are either not solving a problem, irrelevant to the target customer, the pricing is not justifiable or the product is well known. But the distance the advertising industry has come is astounding. One hopes everyone else follows them.

PUBLISHED ON Jul 02,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1157]

Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at

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