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Sometimes it’s clever not to be clever

How to write effective inserts
I love the John Lewis press ads. They're a perfect demonstration of my mantra that 'what you say is always more important than how you say it'. They simply state the offer, in ordinary, everyday words. They show a beautiful photo of the product concerned and rely on elegant typography and a standard layout format to carry the John Lewis...

Now that’s what I call a great headline

How to write a great charity headline
Here's a fantastic example of how to write a great charity headline... When did a piece of advertising of any sort actually stop you in your tracks? When did you last see a headline that was so compelling, so shocking, that your jaw dropped and you had no choice but to read the ad? This happened to me yesterday with a...

Inserts: It doesn’t matter what your message is if nobody can read it.

How to write effective inserts
Because I’m in the business of writing and designing inserts, amongst other things, I look at inserts.  Whereas most normal people shake them straight into the bin. Which is why an insert has to be very, very eye-catching: very instant with its messaging. It needs to say STOP! LOOK AT ME! DON’T BIN ME I’VE GOT SOMETHING INTERESTING FOR YOU!...

Does your online ad need a logo?

pig sales hogwash
Does my online ad need a logo? Maybe it's not a question you ever asked yourself, but I was browsing some of the so-called classic press ads from days of yore recently and something suddenly struck me. Something that, I’m ashamed to say, I’d never noticed in all my years of rattling the stick in the swill bucket. The old...

What makes a great advertising headline?

What makes a great headline? One myth that needs to be nailed into a lead coffin and buried at least six feet under right now is this one: good advertising headlines involve a pun. Where this nonsense actually originated I have no idea, but practically every junior creative team I come across (and far too many senior ones as well)...

Learn the awesome power of The So What Test

brand response what it is
When I’m training bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young creatives how to create effective advertising, or telling junior clients how to evaluate and comment on creative work, I often tell them about the power of The So What Test. It’s all about making sure that your copy and concept is relevant and interesting to the target audience. If they’re going to read it...

Another shocking TV clunker from Peugeot

peugeot tv ad
Just seen a new TV ad for a Peugeot. Don't remember the model. The ad was so shockingly incompetent that the car being sold (HA!) was the very last thing that anybody will take away from it. This is another horrific example of the current vogue in TV advertising for outrageous 'borrowed interest'. Borrowed Interest is when the creators of the...

TV advertisers, please don’t tell me what you believe

tv advertising
Has TV advertising finally lost the plot? It seems that every ad break contains at least one commercial that opens with a variation of "Here at we understand that you..." Sometimes it's "Here at , we believe that..." There are dozens of them out there, right now. Once you look out for them, you'll be shocked at how many there are. Patronising you...

What the hell is ‘brand response’?

brand response what it is
Brand Response. One of the newest manifestations of ignorance, stupidity and fashion that is sweeping through the marketing industry. In case you haven't stumbled across it, Brand Response is a new term used by many marketing people and advertising agencies to describe an advertising campaign that is created to do a brand-building/image/awareness job and at the same time generate a...

What today’s digital marketers can learn from The Reader’s Digest

How do you know what to say in copy or content?
When I was working at The Reader’s Digest Association (I headed up their in-house Promotion Department for five years) people always asked me: “Why do you put all those bits of stuff in the mailpacks, isn’t it just a waste of trees?” And the answers are, from a direct marketing perspective at least, very interesting and have a very timely...