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Advice and help for would be copywriters

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It Is A Fact Of Life That The More You Use Superlatives...

It is a fact of life that the more you use superlatives the less superlative they become. Hitting somebody over the head with a pub of iron now and again is fine in its own way; but if you club him too often he becomes unconscious. The great Dr Johnson once advised an aspiring writer to go through what he had written and, when he came to a phrase that pleased him mightily, to strike it out. I would advise you to do much the same to the superlatives in your copy.

4 Who's the arbiter of funny? Nothing is weaker than a weak joke. Alternatively, nothing is 68 more universally penetrative than a good one. Do you, hand on heart, know the difference? And can you honestly judge the reception you'll get when delivering a punchline to a given audience - even an audience you know well? My advice is: when in doubt, play it straight. Nobody, but nobody, deals with idiots. But if your doubt is marginal, take heart from the fact that the campaigns which are remembered best have, very largely, been the humorous ones.

5 Keep away from women Unless your online advertising is selling direct to women, think twice before allowing women into the picture. And if it's a nubile little creature with not a lot on, think three times. If you can't dream up anything more pertinent to say or to show about a product than the irrelevance of a tight sweater, then resign the account. Or just resign.

6 Research isn't definitive Advertising research, particularly that onerous pre-publication copy-testing lark, is a vastly inexact skill. It has much in common with palmistry and water-divining.

By all means spend a little time studying research if the spirit moves you, or if your bosses insist. But simply because you have spent compulsory time on it, and because it emanates from what others consider to be a luminary in the research firmament, don't then treat it as holy writ. Remind yourself frequently that it may turn out to be completely and ludicrously wrong. To illustrate the mind-blowing negativeness of research, let me quote some recent findings of a Madison Avenue research company. One bright morning, for reasons best known to themselves, they decided to quantify what they Almost final analysis 169 were happy to ring 'spurious awareness' in the consuming public.

Out on to the street they went, en-clipboard-masse; and they questioned the passing populace about three particular products. It turned out that eight per cent of the people they interviewed had heard of a beverage called Four O'clock Tea; sixteen per cent said they knew about Leone Pasta; and some thirty-one per cent was aware of Mrs Smith's Cake Mix. You won't be at all surprised, I imagine, to learn that all three products were totally fictitious. You may, however, raise an eyebrow when I tell you that, according to the researchers, this piece of research proved that spurious awareness was a factor which should be taken into account during all future research programmes. They reasoned, believe it or not, that spurious awareness would help make research even more scientific and even more accurate.

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