Archive for the ‘copywriting’ category

Don’t Get Cute…And Don’t Refute!

April 10th, 2009

Have you ever tried to be cute or funny at the end of a conversation, only to wish you’d kept your mouth shut? Too many TV and radio commercials make that mistake, the most recent example being the Stanley Steemer carpet cleaning service.

After roughly 25 seconds of telling you what a great job Stanley Steemer will do cleaning your carpet, the commercial ends by showing a female customer saying with a slight laugh, “If only it would stay that clean.”  Now WHY would they have her say that? Why encourage the viewer to think, “That’s a good point–Why spend all that money when the carpet is just going to get dirty again?” Granted, not everyone will respond to the line this way, but some might. So why take the chance?

it’s essential that advertisers scrutinize every line of copy for any potential downside.  And if there is potential downside, the only way the line should survive is if it entails even greater upside. In the case of the Stanley Steemer ad, the closing line does not contribute one iota of charm or humor; it’s all downside with zero upside, and thus it should never have been proposed by the agency or approved by the client.

Lord knows that customers can think of all sorts of reasons not to buy your product on their own; there’s absolutely no reason to sow any seeds of doubt that might grow into additional reasons for them to take a pass. And remember–If you’re going to try to be cute at the end of your commercial, you’d better be sure you’re reinforcing your message rather than refuting it.

Who Writes This Stuff?!?!

February 14th, 2009

I just saw a two-page spread for Porsche in a business magazine.  The main visual is a photo of three spectacular vehicles, and the headline is simply the names of the models:  “Cayman. Boxster. 911.” Despite the exciting products featured, however, this sports car ad is fairly pedestrian. 

To make matters worse, the only thing that really grabbed me–and I’m guessing I’m the only one it grabbed–is the first line of the body copy. Appearing directly below the “Cayman. Boxster. 911.” headline is the opening line, “Never before have three words meant so much.”  Now, I’m not against a little hyperbole now and then, particularly if it’s wrapped around a clever idea, but this is just a weak, flatfooted attempt that aimed at profundity and landed on absurdity.  I mean, are these really the most meaningful words ever uttered? Hell, technically, one of them isn’t even a word; it’s a number. I guess the copywriter felt that “Never before have two words and a number meant so much” wouldn’t roll trippingly off the tongue.
A similarly vacuous bit of copywriting is the tagline used in the current TV campaign for Bridgestone tires. Actually, the campaign itself is pretty well designed and well-produced, with the exception of the last line of the ads: “When it comes to tires, it’s Bridgestone, or nothing.” Uh, no, it’s not; it’s Bridgestone, or some other brand of tires. If you’re talking about a discretionary product, such as after-shave (remember the classic Aqua Velva commercials from the 1970s?), nothing might be an alternative, but that’s not the case with tires. Actually, Bridgestone could make its tagline work if showed customers who opt to drive with no tires if they can’t have Bridgestones. Of course, that’s absurd, but it at least could be a humorous and memorable way to convey the loyalty of its customers. But as it is, their tagline adds nothing to their ads, and it might even detract from them if any viewers are actually thinking about what’s being said to them.
Two questions come to mind: “Who’s writing this stuff?”, and “Who’s approving this stuff?”