Mark Duffy has written the Copyranter blog for 10 years and is a freelancing copywriter with 20-plus years of experience. His hockey wrist shot is better than yours.
Becoming a good ad copywriter is really not hard. It’s much easier than becoming a good actual real writer.
Here’s how to become a good copywriter: Forget grammar (mostly), just write informally, like how people talk to each other. And as David Ogilvy famously supposedly said, “The customer is not a moron. She’s your wife” — which is a bit dated and sexist but just replace “wife” with “best friend.” This is a very important insight to remember.
The best ads — online, offline, video, print, whatever — don’t have “clever” lines; they have clever/unexpected visuals/scenarios complemented by understated copy.
But often, the client, either because of budget constraints or lack of courage/imagination, just wants a big honking product hero ad, which means the copywriter has to do all the heavy lifting and write a “smart” or “funny” or “brilliant” headline.
But again: This is not hard. You might have to write 100 headlines, or more, to get a good one, but you’ll get it, eventually, depending on how much experience you have.
But these days, for many people, even professional copywriters, apparently it is still very hard indeed.
Coopers Pale Ale (Australia)
Look at this poster ad from a new campaign by Adelaide agency kwp! Advertising, which has had the Coopers account for many years. (Here’s a groaner of a pun ad they did in 2007. Never use puns unless they are perfect — like this 2009 Veet ad.)
So: The Beer That Beer Would Drink? Let’s say you were at a bar with your best friend: Would you say this to him as a reason to order a Coopers, even if he was an abject moron?
Let’s try this creative word play with other products:
The Whopper: The burger that burgers would eat.
BMW: The car that cars would drive.
Toro: The lawnmower that lawnmowers would mow lawns with.
This is probably the stupidest beer ad I’ve ever seen, which is saying something.
Vitamin Water (USA)
The latest nationwide OOH campaign by the Coke product is an attempt by the brand to show that it is “down” with your city. It is a terrible campaign. First stop: New York.
Well, they put their condescending smarmy poster up on the right side of the tracks: Bravo! That’s very helpful to approximately zero New Yorkers. I have no idea what the point is of that two-sheet piece of non-communication (right).
Oh, it gets worse. The local experts placed this invaluable piece of outer-borough real estate advice in New York magazine. And, of course, there’s nothing that a New York woman likes better than a drunken troglodyte shouting slurred come-ons at her across two tracks as she stands alone at 3 a.m. #HydrateTheHustle, bros.
What makes these stupid executions even more unacceptable is the responsible agency is Ogilvy New York.
Here Vitamin Water nails Bawstin wicked hard. Youz guyz and your accents! Now go buy our Southie brawl fuel.
Well now, these boards kinda work because they are lazy and senseless, just like LA.
Stolichnaya Vodka (NYC)
Lastly, I snapped this phone kiosk poster on the Upper Westside earlier this year. I love the bottle art direction, but that headline leaves me speechless. That’s … a product quality that is good I guess? Better than “tastes like rat puke.” Did Stoli do an extensive taste test with vodka drinkers? Then, the headline would at least be a thing to say. But they didn’t, so it isn’t. This ad is by the Martin Agency, supposedly one of the most creative agencies in the world.
Now excuse me, I’m in the middle of 100 bad headlines for somebody.
How the push for anti-‘woke’ advertising could create controversy for brand startups
As some push back on inclusive marketing, startups with more to lose sound off.
U by Kotex believes normalizing periods will help it reach millennials, Gen Z
U by Kotex is looking to continue with recent streaming ads, digital spots, banner ads, shopper marketing and influencer partnerships focused on “Normalizing Periods.”
Digiday+ Research Briefing: CMO Strategies — How marketers’ social platform budgets stack up
In this week's Digiday+ Research Briefing, we share focal points from Digiday's recently released reports on how marketers’ social platform budgets stack up, and how agencies are feeling less pessimistic about the death of the third-party cookie.
SponsoredWhat the measurement and currency discussion really means to TV advertisers
Ali Mack, head of TV and agency, Experian Major streaming video providers have recently made headlines by adopting new currencies for ad measurement, threatening Nielsen’s long-standing TV ratings monopoly. NBCUniversal, for example, has certified iSpot and VideoAmp as currencies for advanced audiences and formed the Joint Industry Committee with Paramount, TelevisaUnivision and Warner Bros. Discovery. […]
With TikTok star Keith Lee, Pepsi hopes to draw Gen Z to Black-owned restaurants
Pepsi is teaming up with TikTok food reviewer Keith Lee to promote the best Black-owned restaurants with a focus on Gen Z.
Can Meta remain the ‘holy grail of paid advertising’ with challenges, challengers and Advantage+?
With more competitors and less solutions, advertisers sound off on Meta's social ad dominance.