Six bits of copy I wish I’d written

by Stephanie Smith on

1. I love this press ad by The Economist. You read it expecting to see ‘great minds think alike’, but there’s a twist – and for a bit of head scratching, you get rewarded. That’s why this copy is bang-on. It says, “You’re clever; we’re clever; let’s be clever together.” So just in the space of five words, The Economist have made us part of their club.

Lush

2. It’s not easy to stand out from the crowd in an industry that’s dominated by micro-science and bendy-holdy technology. But this product description from Lush is as different as bubbles and bathtubs. It oozes character. The funny religious word-play mixed with a vivid floral simile gives Lush a tone of voice that’s distinctive, refreshing and flamboyant. I can’t imagine Cussons or Dove riffing on the Lord’s Prayer, can you?

Macmillan

3. Cancer is a sensitive subject. It’s easy to scaremonger or over-do the emotion. But Macmillan Cancer Support’s copywriting proves the ‘C’ word is powerful enough to stand alone. That’s why this billboard is so clever. It’s unapologetically understated and it’s all about actions and solutions, not problems. By using short sentences for impact, repetition for emphasis and strong verbs to ramp up the action, Macmillan Cancer Support are putting cancer patients firmly back in control. It’s no accident that the word ‘we’ wracks up a grand total of 11 appearances in just 41 words. This is a rallying cry where everyone can get involved and do something to help.

And most importantly, by giving us concrete examples of the things they do – like ‘we fund nurses’ – Macmillan Cancer Support earn the right to make some really big promises. So when they say ‘we change lives’, it’s easy to believe them.

FirstDirect

4. This copy from First Direct is cracking, and not just in the burst pipe sense. It propels you straight into the story, transforming an invisible financial product into something you can see – something you can imagine happening to you. It’s vivid, which is no mean feat in the world of financial services. And it uses language that real human beings really use in real life – it’s no Nocturnal External Drainage Issues Protection Insurance, that’s for sure.

Virgin

5. I love this cheeky bit of copy from Virgin Atlantic. You can tell this is Virgin straight away, just by their tone of voice. British Airways would never call you ‘long legs’, not in a gazillion years. We know this instinctively. But how? What’s the difference between Virgin and BA? They fly the same planes to the same airports on the same timetables for virtually the same price. The only thing that sets them apart is their brand. BA is the established player, while Virgin is the challenger. They shake things up – you can kiss goodbye to the status quo. That’s how we know we’ll get a different experience with Virgin. And that’s why calling you ‘long legs’ just feels right for their brand. If British Airways is a well-groomed moustache, Virgin is a red stiletto.

Apple

6. It’s an oldy, but a goody. Scratch that – it’s phenomenal. I love this copy from Apple’s ‘Think Different’ campaign. The rhythm is inescapable. You feel fired up. Like you can’t decide whether to invent something or throw something or kiss someone. It makes you want to rebel. To change things. The writers establish a pattern in the copy, and then break their own rules. Just look at the two word sentences – there are six in a row, then they suddenly whack in a longer sentence to shake things up. This is copy as poetry.

Right. You’ve seen my six, so that’s it from me folks. Have you spotted any top-notch copy lately?