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Advice and help for would be copywriters

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Which Implies Not Only A Pair Of Screamers, But Underlined Italics Etc...

These end with an emphasis which implies not only a pair of screamers, but underlined italics into the bargain. I was listening, just the other day, to a local advertisement radio station when on came a thirty-second spot for a brand of sunglasses. It ended, after much hollering and shouting, with an exhortation to 'get out and buy your sunglasses right now!' The time of this particular broadcast was around 12.30 on a Sunday - an hour when most women are up to their elbows in roast beef and two veg, most men are up to their ears in pints of ale, and most chemists are either closed or, more likely, inhibited by some curious law from selling anything other than Aspro and corn-plasters. Whether the advertiser expected everyone to drop their Yorkshires, bolt their beers, and to stream out and hammer on the doors of unresponsive chemists' shops, I don't know.

It would obviously be foolish to make any kind of issue out of the timing of this commercial. Or, indeed, its exhortation ending.

I cite it only as an example of how, via the spoken as well as the written word, the innocent exclamation mark is continuously taking a hammering that it neither deserves nor asks for. It all stems, I suppose, from those well-meaning websites on copywriting without tears which insist, nay demand, that every piece of copy should finish with a bang, a flourish of verbal trumpets and an injunction to buy. Such works have caused more mischief in the minds of the half-informed than they have ever done good. Because the best of copy nowadays (not the majority, but the best) ends with a whisper rather than a bang; and the writers of it are sensible enough to realise that the injunction to buy does not lie solely in the final punchline, but is inherent in the whole ad from top to bottom.

So to close this mini-tirade about nothing much, my clear advice on the subject is this: when tempted to put down a screamer . . . think twice!! Then think again!!! Don't, please, take me up wrongly. My brand of wisdom, for want of a better word, is no more desirable than the brand X of many another copywriter. But over the years, a number of things have tended to irritate, and I think it's about time I scratched the itch.

In the so-doing, if you learn something from it - or simply believe you've learned something from it so much the better. We shall now discuss the arguments about hard-sell and soft-sell. If you aren't-familiar with these terms, I'll put you straight.

Hard-sell is said to be that type of online advertising which shouts at you, bullies you and hopes to leave you with the impression that you are something of a mug, seeing as how you don't already own whatever it is they're talking so loudly about. Soft-sell by comparison, is alleged to be the sort which creeps up on you on the quiet, makes you nod sagely, and hints in the subtlest possible way that there's a mite more to what they're selling than is obvious at first glance.

There is, I contend, good and bad of both kinds. Were you to demand a definite opinion, I would come down on the side of the soft-sell every time. Here's why. A lot of advertisers, and thus a lot of their copywriters, are in private life perfectly reasonable human beings.

But they seem to be under some compulsion to bawl their heads off in print. Personally, I believe that when you shout about something that manifestly isn't worth shouting about, you only succeed in making yourself look idiotic. On the other hand, just as the soft answer turneth away wrath, so the soft statement frequently turneth on the customer.

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