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Why waste your precious budget telling punters what your product doesn’t do?

How to describe your product on your website or advertising
You see it time and time again. Ads where the hugely expensive media cost and production costs are squandered by telling the the potential customer what the product isn't, rather than what it is. Insanity. You see it on TV, online, in the press, everywhere. There's a particularly idiotic example poisoning the airwaves at the mo. It's for Trainline's app that...

Social Media: why it’s a PR medium not an advertising medium

HOw to use social media
These days, you can't do an advertising pitch to a potential new client without including some soshul meeja, innit, content. So the copywriters and art directors come up with all sorts of cool and groovy uses for Facebook, Twitter, Vine et al and, depressingly often, an App relating to the client's product or brand (which, needless to say, never gets...

The John Lewis Christmas telly ad. I thought it was just me…

JOhn Lewis terrible xmas commercial
Very pleased to read AA Gill in the Sunday Times writing about this Christmas's TV offering. I thought I was alone in finding it cynical, sentimental and manipulative -- the accidental, unforced charm of the original three years ago (the boy waiting for christmas so he could GIVE the presents) having been replaced by a big budget pre-hype campaign...

The copy’s too long

The 6 million dollar question that marketeers struggle with (or should struggle with): how long should website content be? The content's too long. No it isn't. Yes it is. No it isn't. Have you ever had a conversation like this? It doesn't really matter if you're on the Yes It Is side or on the No It Isn't side.The fact is there isn't...

The most dangerous tube ad ever written?

How to write a great charity headline
It's very rare that a piece of advertising or marketing is genuinely a matter of life and death. Which is why I was so incensed to see a tube card the other day that was bordering on the evil. Tube cards are the little posters above the windows in tube carriages. They're interesting because unlike most 'outdoor' advertising spaces, you...

The best copy in the world can’t sell something nobody wants

pig sales hogwash
In Saffron Walden, where I'm lucky enough to live, shops open and then close down again in the blink of an eye. They're always shops that sell stuff that their owners are clearly passionate about -- Pin Cushions R-Us! or Dog Trousers Unlimited or Tripe-2-Go. The problem is, their passion isn't shared by the community at large. They simply don't...

Borrowed Interest: the lazy person’s alternative to an idea

How to develop a good comms concept
Borrowed interest. This is where you import an idea, a headline, a visual treatment or something else irrelevant to the product or service you're selling from somewhere else. It used to be something that only your local builder, minicab or beauty parlour did. Because they didn't know any better and it, sort of, looked like the advertising they saw from...

How long should a headline be?

"How long should a website headline be?" If there are two feedback comments that are guaranteed to get a direct response copywriter's hackles up, his teeth clenched and his knuckles gripping the table edge whitely, it's these two. (In fact, if you know a copywriter who doesn't get intensely annoyed when he hears them, he or she is clearly not...

Catalogues aren’t ads

HOw to write catalogue copy
Here's how to write catalogue copy. It's pretty easy, to be honest, but more and more often, I see catalogue copy written as if it were in a press ad. (And get asked to write it like that, too). This is very wrong. If you've got as far as looking in a catalogue for a certain product, you're already a good...

The clowns have taken over

Are you getting your branding wrong?
In the crazy, mixed-up, back-to-front and upside-down world that is advertising at the moment, creative directors will often comment on copy that’s been written for them by saying “Hey, fantastic tone, brilliant!” This is meant to be a compliment. It means you’ve managed to write very accurately in the house style of the particular brand you’re working on. Each big brand...