The Future of Ad Writing
America has been flattered by advertising ("Because you deserve it"), misled by ads ("Lowest prices anywhere"), hyped by ads ("While supplies last"), and lied to repeatedly ("Guaranteed!"). The result of all this misinformation is a growing numbness to ad-speak. We're becoming deaf and blind to it. With effortless ease we shut it out of our minds.
Why are advertisers happy when their ads sound like ads?
Once-effective phrases become clichés when overused. Remember the 70s? Guys with long, pointed collars and blow-dried hair used the standard pick-up line, "Do you come here often?" They did it because it worked. They quit only when the ladies began laughing at them.
But advertising still wears that ridiculous collar and blow-dried hair because its rejection was never face-to-face. We don't laugh at ads. We quietly ignore them.
When demand is high and supply is low, your ads need only tell the world, "We've got it!" But how often do you actually get to do this?
Advertising--most of the time--is merely a relationship deepener. Its job is to cause the public to like you and trust you. Accomplish this and they'll remember you when they, or any of their circle, need what you sell.
Good news: A seductive new voice in advertising is softening the hearts and winning the wallets of our nation at a record pace. This new future of advertising is known as "non ads"--consumer messages written in the vulnerable, candid style of a conversation between close friends. Their language isn't aggressive and egocentric like advertising, but unguarded, playful and real. Non-ads admit weaknesses, confess fears, and never try to impress. They speak to the customer in the language of a friend, rather than a pitchman. Does it surprise you that the natural response of the customer is to give you their trust? But here's the bigger question: Do you have the courage to be a friend, tell the truth, and worry more about your customer's happiness than your own?
My strong suggestion is that you adopt it sooner rather than later. The following examples of two real non-ads I've encountered lately should help you better understand this new concept and begin implementing it today.
You're seated in 12-B, reading an in-flight magazine. The following words appear in white letters against a medium olive background, no photograph or graphic:
Isn't it amazing how people will read anything at 36,000 ft? You, for instance, are reading this. And even though it's quite obviously an ad, and you're skeptical of advertising, you'll continue reading it. See, here you are, still reading. C'mon, don't try to deny it. And why are you still reading? Not because you find it particularly captivating, but because it's here. And you're here. And you've already exhausted your mandatory, meaningless airplane chit-chat time with your neighbor. So right about now you're probably asking yourself, 'Why am I still reading this?' Perhaps you're even pretending you're not reading it anymore. You're going to close this magazine up right now and slip it back into that pocket up there. But wait, you're still reading it, aren't you? You can't help yourself. It's here. You're here. And you still can't use your cell phone until you reach the tarmac. By the way, we know a really good bookstore around here.
At the bottom of the page is the logo for Verizon and in larger letters, "Superpages.com, We know around here."
Like you and trust you. That's the goal.
Walk into the men's room at Robbins Bros., The World's Biggest Engagement Ring Store, and here's what you'll see covering the wall of the toilet stall:
Here's your chance. Get out now while you can. Quick, look for a window. Or the ventilation shaft. Okay, remove your clothes. Skivvies, too. Lube your entire body with that hand soap over there. Now take a penny and unscrew the corner of the duct. Now get to struggling. Conviction is important at this point. You do not want to get stuck. Imagine your bride-to-be coming in and seeing your nude lower torso poking out like some sort of modern art installation. That's an image for the mantel, isn't it? So squirm like the wind. Once free, secure some clothing and start a new life somewhere with complicated extradition laws. And then back to bachelorhood. Yes, the singularly most forlorn, emotionally vacant time of your life. Come on, is there anything more overrated than bachelorhood? If you're like most bachelors, you go to bed every night wishing you weren't one. Let's look at the sacred, time-tested bachelor traditions you'll be missing out on. Well, of course, there's being a slob. As well as extended periods of not bathing and otherwise lapsed personal hygiene. And hanging out with your unattached friends. A group of guys who with each passing year are starting to get, frankly, a little creepy. Your future is out there. Your best friend is out there. Besides, that liquid soap itches like crazy.
Vision and audacity allowed the Robbins brothers to build "the world's biggest engagement ring store." And the same characteristics caused him to be among the first in America to adopt the intimate and irreverent voice of "non ads" as the advertising voice of the future. By the time the rest of the nation catches on to what they're doing, they will likely have moved on to something else.
How about you? Will you change with the times?
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