A retail brokerage firm ran 4 full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times (at least) a few weeks ago, and I can't remember one thing they said.
As a matter of fact, I can't tell you which firm paid for the space. I do remember that the pages sure were orange, though.
Every newspaper ad is really an impermanent repository for smudges of one color or another. You can't turn a page without getting a little something on your hands. God forbid you fold or flatten it. So I get black residue on my fingers simply from reading the stuff I want to read. Why would an agency graphics person choose to make my brief sojourn across an ad page even messier?
And a newspaper page is actually quite a lot of real estate, if you think about it,. A page could probably can hold two or three pretty substantive, detailed news stories. I can't name an ad from any company, at any time, that requires (or would benefit from) that amount of space. If it gave the detail to fill up the page, I certainly wouldn't read it. The firm that paid for the space chose to give us four pages of somethingoranother.
A comment about the lazy reading habits revealed above: I'm not alone. The days of people hunkering down and reading newspaper articles verbatim are long gone, if they ever existed. Folks read the stuff that really and truly interests them, and they scan the rest. Barely. The headline business is cut-throat and unforgiving, whether in news or advertising. What did the investment firm headline tell me? Er, I can't remember.
Finally, the context of newspaper reading has changed. There was a time -- again, perhaps a bit idealized -- when commuters sat or stood on their trains and read the morning paper. Maybe they did do while eating breakfast with their perfect spouses and 2.5 kids sitting adoringly around the table.
Not so much anymore.
I'd suggest that the very physics of opening a newspaper and turning its pages means that unless you read it on a giant, flat surface, you never see the inside half of any page. I know that's how I experience most magazine ads. So half the headline has to get me interested in opening up the publication, which makes things twice as hard for headline writers who already didn't have it too easy.
This is all to say that the 4 pages of the retail broker's ad didn't say anything meaningful to me whatsoever.
I'm sure the ad looked really bold an insightful when beamed on the wall when it was presented to the client. The financial markets are going haywire, and the idea that one of the great advocates of investing by the Little People would take out some substantive statement of information that needed to be substantively stated was, well, probably not a bad idea.