COPYWRITING

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By 1910,  Henry  Ford  had spent  five  years  and  thousand  dollars  perfecting  his new  Model T car. It was  time to advertise. But what sort of ad should he run? Ads at that time were mostly art or photos, with a very little copy or words. But Ford  believed  that  art  alone  couldn’t  sell  his  model  T.  It  had  to  described  in detail.

 

A few weeks later, readers of the “Saturday Evening Post” were startled to see a two-page long black and white ad, with no pictures and all words!

 

When  Ford  speaks,  the  world  listens”,  boldly  declared   the  headline.  The  ad contained more words or copy (1200 words to be exact) than any ad of the day. It detailed  the  financial  condition  of  the  Ford  Company,  listed  its  28  factories assembly plants and  branches,  and described how Model T was invented. Ford was  proven  right in no  time at all. The ad soon  produced more sales  than any other auto ad in history. And it gave Henry Ford his first push toward beginning the most profitable manufacturing company in the world, 10 years later.

 

The  above  example  illustrates  the  power  and  potential  of  copy  to  stimulate action.

 

Let  us  now  look at  the specific  role  of copywriting  in  the advertising  creative process.  There  are  two  aspects  to  advertising  creativity—“Creativity   Strategy” and  “Creative  Tactics”.  Both “Strategy” and “Tactics” are terms borrowed from military  terminology. While Strategy refers to the broad, overall planning of an activity, Tactics refers to the detailed steps taken to execute that plan.

 

Creative  Strategy  specifies  what  the  advertising  is  to  convey.  It  is  the  starting point  for Creative Tactics. It involves decisions such as brand positioning, image, personality and attributes.

 

Example:  Macfast serves delicious wholesome, food made-on-the-spot to your order that provides a change from the usual fast-food meals.

 

Creative  Tactics,  on  the other hand,  determine  how  the message  is  going to  be conveyed. It includes both verbal and visual development of the message. In this section, we are concerned with copy, or Verbal Creative Tactics. Verbal Creative Tactics involve decisions such as type of copy, appeal, etc. which will examine in detail later.

 

Example: “Macfast — The fffrresh fast –food alternative”.

 

Accompanying visual creative tactics for TV commercial for the restaurant could include—extreme close-ups  of the food, showing freshness of ingredients, close- ups  of  eaters  to  show  enjoyment  of  food,  or  the  above  slogan  written  in  an unusual type style.

 

Let us now refer back to the Model T, to understand the objectives of copy. This example illustrated the ultimate purpose of copy—to persuade or remind people to take some action, in order to satisfy a need.

 

However, good copy must fulfill some basic objectives, before going on to induce action. As a first step, copy must gain the prospect’s  attention. Simply having a great  idea  is not  enough  it needs  to  be  presented  properly and  have stopping power.  There are several devices which  could be used to achieve this attention- gaining function.

 

The  headline  is  usually  the  major  attention-gaining  device.  It  can  halt  the progress  of  readers  through  newspaper  or  a  magazine.  Various  tactics  may  be used  for  gaining attention  through  headlines. We  shall examine  these in  detail later.

 

One effective type of headline is to ask question and get prospects to read on, to find the answer. For example, the Grasim Suitings caption:

 

“How does Robert De Niro turn on the Heat?”

 

There is a pun on the word “heat”, which refers to the movie starring Robert De Niro.  The curiosity of the reader is aroused  and he  is  tempted  to read  further. The message: Wearing Grasim Suitings makes you a star.

 

You ‘ve  now grabbed  your customer’s attention. He’s  looking at the ad. But if you  can’t keep his  interest, you’re going to  lose him. As a copywriter, you  will need to talk to him, about him, about his problems and needs.

 

Interesting copy  is  like  an  effective  salesman.  If  it  is  inviting,  enthusiastic  and encourages participation, it will hold the prospect. If not, it will be shunned like a rude   salesman!  Copy  can  hold  interest  through  use  of  subheads,  humour (provided it is  relevant), invigorating body copy, variety in sentence construction and  length,  choice  of  words,  and  combinations  of  letters  to  mention  a  few techniques.

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