Calls to action that just don’t work

who ya gonna call

It’s first thing in the morning, you’re getting ready for work, eating breakfast and reading the news headlines on your phone. From the other room your partner/roommate/parent/whoever-lives-with-you/work-with-me-here screams out ‘remember to call John about your upcoming appointment. His number is ’91 6579 2435’.


You go about your day. Oh that’s right. Need to call John you think smugly, proud as punch you actually remembered to do it. Hmmm … What in the sweet power of the photographic memory was that number again?



As if you’d remember it.


That’s pretty much what every advertisement with a phone number in it is asking you to do:

  1. Hear and memorise a series of numbers while a million other things are going on.
  2. Then recall said series of numbers at the exact moment you need it.

Just one call to action that’s a total waste of space. More ranting about that here.


Today I heard something that tops the ol’ phone number in the ad trick.

‘Look for us under “S” in the white pages’.

Um, the 80s called and would like their call to action back please. Does anyone use a phone book these days? Phone book … as in the printed books housing thousands of phone numbers for businesses and people who are still landline-inclined.

Image for illustrative purposes only (i.e. not “S”)



Do phone books even exist anymore? Actually they do. I recall chucking mine in the recycling bin while thinking to myself ‘gosh, these still exist?’

Assuming you still have one, “S” would like you to remove from it from under your computer monitor (or whatever heavy object the phone book is propping up—they are handy like that) or dig through your junk cupboard in the hopes of locating it within the next few hours.

Seeing you went to the effort of getting the phone book, you might also want to look up “S”s competitors and give them a buzz. They are probably on the same page.


And while I’m on a rant (why stop now?) … a new bar would like you to like them on Facebook. At least they are in the present day. But really?


If a business is worth your thumb held up towards the heavens, pretty sure you should be the one to decide it—not do it because some random business has asked you to in an ad.

Otherwise you’re basically saying ‘sure thing random business, peddle your wares across my feed’. The Facebook equivalent of a ‘heck-yes junk mail’ sign on your letterbox.


‘Well Mel, stop being a negative Nancy and tell us what makes a good call to action’.

To that I respond: a memorable and authentic campaign that appeals to your audience and keeps your brand top of mind. And *shock, horror* it might not need a call to action at all.

Most of us understand the concept of an online search. We just need to know what name to type into that search box.

P.S. And you don’t need to tell me to ‘Google’ you in your ad.



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