They say people don’t read print ads with copy in them any more. In fact they’ve been saying it for quite a few years. They blame the sheer volume of sections and supplements in newspapers, the number of pages in magazines and the other distractions that vie for our attention. Reading blogs, for example. However, to all of that I say, codswallop.
Why? Well do read on, if you’ve got the time and I’ll tell you.
I remember having the same short copy vs long copy discussion when I was a very junior copywriter with the chap that used to mentor me in one of my first ad agency jobs. His name was David Anderson and he was a phenomenal Head of Copy. Probably still is. At that time I was in the ‘short copy’ camp, probably because it meant I didn’t have to do quite so much research and work. Anderson turned slowly to me and said “I could write a full page, broadsheet ad containing many thousands of words and I can assure you that no matter how busy or tired you were, you’d read it. 100% Guaranteed.” I shook my head and did a bit of petulant tutting. I think I might even have said bollocks. But in the time it took him to utter that sentence, he had drawn the outline of a full-page ad and written the headline across the top. It read, “This ad is all about Mike Fleming”.
Of course I’d read that ad. So would you if it had your name in the headline.
The point that Anderson made so eloquently was that by being relevant and compelling we can get consumers to read as many words as we want. I was an instant convert to the possibility. In fact, we can get them to read entire books. Isn’t that where the power of self-help volumes lies? Here’s a long copy ad, written by the brilliant Tony Brignull that proves Anderson’s and my point perfectly.
Although you might not be able to read the small text (you can click the ad and it will open up a bit bigger for you), you know that you would if you could, given the compelling headline.
Here’s a link to the PDF if you can’t read the small print.
I believe that the same rules that govern the success of long copy print ads also apply to every field of marketing communication. The more relevant we can be the better. It attracts attention in the first instance, then, if our powers of persuasion are half decent, it allows us to make what we’re saying personal, insightful and compelling. So, the next time you’re creating a piece of work that needs to elicit a tangible and measurable reaction, don’t think big, think small. Think personal. Think universal human emotion and truth. Don’t speak at people, speak to them. People tend to read things on their own, so talk to them one-to-one. Just as I am to you, now. It’ll help to stop them looking at your work and dismissing it with a cursory, ‘codswallop.’