Copywriting tip #91: Can you say it a different way?

One of the maxims of marketing is repetition.  Maybe that's why most ad copy sounds the same.  Everyone seems to take the same spin on the product or service…and end up sounding a bit "me too" when all is said and done.

Take the idea of encouraging seat belt usage.  For years we've seen the test dummies slammed into dashboards and front windows.  We've had traffic fatality statistics scroll by and we've been shown mournful family members express their loss.

Nothing wrong with any of it…it's just been done to death.  Which is why this commercial is so powerful.  Watch it and then I'll tell you the back story.  (e-mail subscribers…click here to view)

Pretty impactful — wasn't it?  An independent director in the UK, Daniel Cox, got the idea for this spot and went to the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership and proposed his idea.  They let him shoot the spot and because of its completely different approach — it has become a worldwide sensation…and very effective in delivering the seat belt message.

Not only has the YouTube video been viewed over 9 million times, but the spot has always garnered significant news coverage, including this story on CNN.

So…. how do we create the same impactful, fresh kind of copy writing/concepting?  We ask different questions and we view the "problem" from different points of view.

Try some of these on for size:

  1. Put the message in the middle of the "table" and walk around it.  Identify different people who would have a perspective on it.  What might they say?  (Listen carefully to their choice of words)
  2. What would the problem (product, service) say if it could talk?
  3. If you had to play charades…how would you act out the problem (product/service)

Being creative and fresh isn't a fluke.  It's hard work.  Perhaps because it's so difficult — it's rare.  Which is why we are so enamored when it happens!

Share the Embrace Life spot with those you love… what better way to ask them to buckle up?

Hat tip to my Dad for sharing the spot with me!

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8 comments on “Copywriting tip #91: Can you say it a different way?

  1. Shelby says:

    Drew, while we’ve probably all experienced the pain of marketing by committee, this is a great example of when it can really work to our advantage as marketers. There’s nothing liking getting the perspectives of people in different departments to really help you find the other voices. Thanks for sharing the spot. Makes me want to go home (with my seatbelt securely fastened) and hug my family.

  2. Rob says:

    Wow Drew that was awesome. Keen eye and great advice, I’m going to see if writing down my unique selling position on one piece of paper and giving it time to sit, for me to work over it provides more avenues for me to appeal to my target audience. The charades one is almost impossible for me to think of…awesome video.

  3. Jimmy Chan says:

    Great article… great video, within it contains the marketing message itself without words i’ts like communication without pestering an indeed a high level form of marketing.

  4. Chanel says:

    new pedestrian plazas at Times Square. As you may recall, Mayor Bloomberg decided last month to make permanent the five plazas that DOT installed in the area last May. Now the DOT is looking for “a series of economical, temporary surface treatments” to keep these spaces looking good until it’s able to implement a permanent build-out (currently slated to for 2012). Designs must enhance the pedestrian experie

  5. I’ve seen the seatbelt video. And I agree that it is very unique way to say something they’ve been saying for years.

    Really does give you pause and make you wonder what kind of new and interesting ways you could come up with to blog about things already covered elsewhere.

    Good tip and excellent illustration of the concept.

  6. Steve Jobs says:

    I think the most important word in direct mail copy (aside from free, of course) is not “you,” as many of the textbooks would have it, but “I.” What makes a letter seem personal is not seeing your own name printed dozens of times across the page or even being battered to death with a never-ending attack of “you’s.” It is, rather, the sense you get of being in the presence of the writer – that a real person sat down and wrote you a real letter. A heavily computerized letter, by contrast, seems less personal. Direct mail recipients, after all, don’t need to be reminded that they are real human beings with real names. To the contrary, they need to be assured that the letter they are reading comes from a human being, not a computer and not a committee.

  7. Karin Dunn says:

    Just gave me chills. So powerful. Thank you for sharing.

  8. I have to admit, I don’t think I have ever seen a seatbelt commercial that appealed to any emotion but fear or dread. This spot is so joyful — it connects to a completely different part of my brain.

    I think it’s a brilliant take on an old message.

    Drew

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