Shaving Face

Here are three simple techniques that can save any ad from being forgettable.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the June 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

You don't need a column like this to tell you that concocting a great headline and visual are critical to creating an effective ad. You already know that. But there's another component to ad-making that's an equal, if not greater, challenge: figuring out how to lasso the prospect into reading the rest of the ad. It's not easy, no matter how well-crafted your message. It's much simpler to get attention than to hold it. Persuading readers to go beyond the clever phrasing in the heading and the eye candy of the visual requires some special, complex thinking.

That's what the people in Gillette's Braun division accomplished with this ad for the company's new self-cleaning shaver. This ad gets an A+ in many departments, but special kudos go to those who designed body copy that's inviting to read. By housing the five breezy questions and answers in a little five-tiered table (similar to the one found in the "tools" pull-down menu on many computers), the copy looks refreshingly different from the typical paragraph format and is therefore tempting to read. Not only that, it's a smile-inducing set of Q&As ("Will it make me more handsome? No, it's not that revolutionary.") The information here is light on detail, though; it would have been effective to point out that a self-cleaning shaver would yield a closer shave.

The company's ad-makers took advantage of the product's leaning tower position while in its base (which allows cleaning fluid to drain), making it especially interesting to view. Any product that's off-kilter in an ad is much more striking. That rule also applies to the shaver's clever, asymmetrical placement slightly left of center in the ad.

Finally, a few comments on the headline. It's much smaller than you'll find in most ads, but the product is so unique-and unique to look at-that the brains at Braun probably figured it could do the heavy lifting in the ad. The wording of the headline is great, too: "Get yourself a new shaver. But don't ever bother to clean it." Releasing the reader from the "bother" of cleaning eliminates one of the many perceived hassles of using an electric razor.

There are at least three simple techniques you can borrow from this ad: setting body copy inside a table to create extra interest, placing your product asymmetrically off-center to draw a viewer's attention, and using a catchy headline that promises to liberate your potential customer from one of life's little inconveniences.

Jerry Fisher is a freelance advertising copywriter and author of Creating Successful Small Business Advertising.

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