Face the Facts

Smacking the reader with the cold, hard truth can give your ad a strong punch.
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This story appears in the December 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

We've all seen the in-your-face TV commercials on the perils of substance abuse, falling down and not getting up, and even the disastrous effects of yellowed teeth on your social life. There's no better way to get an apathetic prospect to bolt to attention than to expose the consequences of any life-changing malady.

That's part of the idea behind the ad shown here, developed by OneSource Marketing for Novartis Ophthalmics Inc. of Duluth, Georgia. The ad promotes the company's treatment for macular degeneration, a devastating vision ailment that blinds more people over 65 than cataracts or glaucoma.

The headline gets an A+ for two reasons. First, it compels the passerby to ponder the question in the beginning: "How scary is losing your sight to Macular Degeneration?" The second part-"Spend a few minutes with Bob, here, and find out"-forces you to dig into the body copy for the answer, but not before glancing at the haunting photo. The reader can't help but be drawn into Bob's diseased eyes, and the photo is made even more dramatic by being cropped at the bridge of his nose.

The body copy starts: "He can't drive. He can't read prescriptions unless they're magnified 60 times." Then it leads into "the real scary part? Most people don't know they have it until it's too late." Now, the ad is set up to propose a solution that "offers hope. But only if you catch it in time." This is followed by a call to action, which asks the reader to phone for free information.

The only criticism I have is that the ad could have promoted a provocative title for the free information-one that hints at its value. I'd suggest a title such as "The 12 Warning Signs of Macular Degeneration and What to Do About Them." A title like that would invite more inquiries. Never just say "send for free information." Give the information a title that makes it seem valuable apart from being a promotional piece.

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

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Edition: July 2017

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