It’s easy to fall into a trap with copywriting of writing for yourself, and not the market you are writing for. It’s a potentially disastrous error. Trying to add too much personality, opinion or subjectivity to a piece of work can easily distract a copywriter from a project’s intended audience and its objective.

Remember too that what might appear tired or old fashioned shouldn’t be changed for change sake. They say that if you are running a successful ad you will get tired of it long before the marketplace does.

Take a look at some copywriting history

The longest running ad in UK newspaper history and featured here in the Guardian offers a good example. Running continually since 1960 the classic ‘Why does your English let you down?’ has attracted some 400,000 clients for Bowden Hall College in Cheshire. The advert’s question has been amended over the years with variations such as “Does your English let you down?” and “Why are you shamed by your English?” but the text has remained almost identical. The combination of a shrewd ad buying policy and a hugely effective ad have proven a profitable source of new clients over the years.

The ad itself was largely ‘inspired’ by… well…. plagiarised ….. from an American product and copy which been used as early as 1919 by Sherwin Cody and his adman Max Sackheim.

When Cody died in 1959 his company was sold to a anonymous entrepreneur, the first thing he did was to retire the “mistakes In English” headline, the reason given being “Other people may think it’s a great slogan, but I think it’s old-fashioned — it no longer does the job.”

Error (or ‘fail’ as SMM types might say). Opinion clearly getting in the way the facts – 50 years of success in America and a subsequent 60 years money making in the UK.

Let the market guide your copywriting, not you.

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