An Exercise to Flex the Copywriting Muscles: Short Copy


I better explain…

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and a lot of surfing the web recently in order to get my head round this copywriting lark – it’s quite the honeymoon period here at Cordell Blogs Copy.

That’s when I came across this: Copywriting Exercise – Toothpaste Print Ad. This with any luck should help me tackle the methodology of nailing a client’s brief.

I haven’t got the necessary tools to create a killer design for the ad, so I thought I’d let the words do the talking.

I’m also going to blog out my thought process for you, as well as provide the finished article – like the ‘making-of’ DVD’s record companies wedge into “deluxe editions” to charge a few extra quid for a new record; but with more value, of course.

Here’s the all important specs:

Product: Whitening Toothpaste

Company Name: SNOW

Target Audience: Adult Men

Focus: This is not a new product launch but its intended audience is new to SNOW’s marketing strategy. This print ad is the very first to launch the new ad campaign.

Special Promotions: Results in 7-days guaranteed or your money back.

Challenge: The company has had great success marketing SNOW to women. A majority of SNOW’s advertising budget will be moved to market SNOW specifically to men. SNOW execs feel there’s a huge gap in the whitening toothpaste market when it comes to advertising the product to men.

Additional Information:

• This print ad will appear in Esquire, GQ, Men’s Health, Men’s Journal and Sports Illustrated.• The cost of the product is $22 for a 4.5-ounce tube or $14 for a 2.5 ounce tube.• Due to the product’s price, most of SNOW’s customers are professionals.• American Dental Association (ADA) approved.

• SNOW removes all stains caused by coffee, tea and tobacco.

• Regular use of SNOW protects teeth from future stains.

• Safe enough for daily use.

• No harsh abrasives or chemicals that cause irritation.

• A clinical study shows SNOW whitens teeth 224-percent more effectively than the leading brands of whitening toothpaste.

• Order by phone or on the website

So the long and short of it is SNOW is an established company that wants to expand their market to include adult males.

We live in an age where, generally speaking, men do give a monkeys about their appearance. We’ve got men’s moisturisers, guy-liner, hair gels, waxes and dyes – it is, by all means, a legitimate move from the company.

So first things first the ad needs a tagline. Something that hooks the reader and won’t let go. Something to land you that fish.

So I began brainstorming. I even made a word map for the word, snow.

Word Map for SNOW

This gave me a few initial ideas but, if I’m honest, wasn’t overly helpful. By focusing on the word snow my work was becoming far too one-dimensional.

You’ve got to be way more creative.

So instead of the brand name, I focused on what I always should have done: the intended audience. They’re the copywriter’s target – you can be a lot more imaginative when you’re not trying to crowbar in the word snow somewhere, anywhere.

Young, image-conscious, professional men – that’s the gig.

Work. Women. Cars. Appearances. Power. We don’t care about snow unless its christmas.  

Here’s some of the short copy I came up with after this glorious epiphany:

Lived the high life? Now live the white life.

– This was a reference to the fact that the toothpaste claims to be able to remove coffee, tea, and tobacco stains from your teeth.

Snow White settled for Bashful, Doc, and Dopey. Imagine what she’d do for Gleaming, White and Pearly.

– The one inspiration I got from the word map – playing on the concept of Snow White as it fitted in with the company and the brand.

FACT: Your wife hates yellow teeth… your secretary too.

– Time I properly considered the target audience, the male professional. Playing on the stereotype of managers and secretaries could be a useful way to connect with the reader.

Stained to sexy in just $14.

– We’ve all heard the phrase 0 – 60 in x amount of seconds – now apply it to toothpaste.

Press-ups for your teeth.

– Men attend the gym to improve their fitness and their physique for aesthetic purposes. You want to look stacked by exercising, how about some of that oomph for your teeth.

Don’t SNOW and drive: High risk of blinding oncoming traffic – You wouldn’t drive around with your ultra-beams on.

– A bit of OTT with a car reference. The idea actually sprang from those Wonderbra ads – first about distracting other drivers, but then the idea that your teeth’s new whiteness might blind them.

After much deliberation, and some help from Twitter, I opted for: “Press-ups for your teeth”. The gym/exercise theme should give me some room to play with for the rest of the ad…

Unfortunately, if long copy is more your thing then your nirvana won’t come until later on – next week we’ll finish the ad off with the long copy.

After all, you can’t have a cake with just the icing.

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