Can advertising copy be as stunning and beautiful as a Porsche?
September 10, 2009
Most people got that my last post was more of a thought starter than a fire starter. In it I “accused” art directors of being more culpable than anyone for the rise in scam-ads. Most of your comments were insightful but I still like my case!
One of the reasons I called out art directors for shunning copy in their ads is based on the old saw: “nobody reads body copy anyway.” You know I heard that line my first year on the job. Didn’t believe it then. Don’t believe it now.
Fact is many people don’t pay attention to ads at all. For them, it’s not a matter of how long or short the copy is; they’re just not interested in being sold something at that particular time. Doubtful any amount of art direction would make much of a difference. A fun concept might grab them but a targeted virgin usually flees the aggressor.
It’s the people who value advertising (be it for emotional or pragmatic reasons) I’m looking for. Even if capturing new users is the brief I still like writing for an audience. Whatever the media (I always think of print first, but that’s me), I imagine I’m writing for someone who is interested in what I have to say. Doing otherwise does you, your client and the consumer a disservice. That’s my opinion. Assuming advertising must be intrusive in order to succeed is, most of the time, a bad call. Ads need to be relevant to an audience. Then they’ll read them, talk about them and even tear them out of a magazine.
I found a piece of copy in Vanity Fair that kicked my ass, for the new model year of Porsche 911. Understand something: I was on my own time, not playing creative director. I was enjoying a magazine that, by the way, has no equal. (For that matter, neither does Porsche.) I am pretty damn sure I am just the audience the copywriter envisioned when he or she sat down to write. It was my pleasure copying the text word for word:
The first time you experience a Porsche 911, you notice a degree of purpose to the car you may not have anticipated. Every component, every technical advancement is there to advance one cause: the drive. You notice the key is on the left; it was put there originally so a racer could start with one hand, shift with the other and hit the track faster. You, car and road bond like brothers. You suddenly remember that driving can be a thrill. Is a thrill. You feel alive every time you get behind the wheel. You note, amazed, that a 385-horsepower car returns 27 miles per gallon. You appreciate its founding belief of getting more from less. You strain to think of something else that has stayed this true to its ideals for 46 years. And you come to the realization that, in the age of the superfluous and superficial, the unrooted and the unserious, the 911 is necessary. Very necessary. The Porsche 911. There is no substitute.
I particularly like the way the writer turned a luxury item into a necessity, making a solid case for Porsche, even in this economy. In other words, he sold me the car. And he did it with words not pictures. I already know how badass the 911 is yet I am not willing to buy one. Seeing another photo of it would do nothing to change my mind. Reading these words could. Indeed, I am considering Porsche’s new sedan, The Panamera next go around.
Kudos to CK, an agency in my backyard, for making copy as deft and beautiful as the cars they’re selling.