How To Write Great Advertising Copy
Posted by Ruth Graham

HOW TO WRITE GREAT ADVERTISING COPY © Ruth Graham


When I was a trainee journalist, I was lucky enough to attend lots of interesting writing courses covering lots of different perspectives including how to write great advertising copy.

One of the exercises I encountered along the way was about writing for advertising agencies. How to write copy that manipulated words in order to evoke a feeling or emotion. The right choice of words can persuade you to do something, or buy a product. Or not to do something. It can make you donate to a good cause, or persuade you to reconsider your beliefs. It’s an art – but it’s one I believe you can learn.

EXERCISES TO IMPROVE YOUR WRITING TECHNIQUES

HERE’S THE EXERCISE WE DID THAT DAY – TRY IT FOR YOURSELF AND SEE HOW YOUR WRITING IMPROVES.

Our teacher took out a lipstick from her bag. She placed it on the table in its case, and said, “describe this.”

We looked at it. It was a lipstick in a shiny case. Someone took the lid off, and wound it up a little so we could see more of the lipstick.

Then the questions began. First of all – you can apply the normal journalists’ mantra of who, what , when, where why to start:

Who would be likely to wear this?

What occasion would they wear it to?

When would they wear it? Every day? Or for more special occasions? If it’s special – what does it promise? Who would see them wearing it? What would happen from there?

Where – where would they buy it from? Where would it take them?

Why buy it? What is it going to do for the wearer? Make them look sexier? More attractive? Fuller lips? More glossy? Protect them from the elements? Give them kudos (if it’s an obviously expensive brand).

BUILDING A PROFILE CREATING THE DESIRE

Then we concentrated on the ‘look’ of the product – did it look expensive, or cheap? It had a shiny case – what did this represent? Was it glamour, or excitement, or promise…?

The colour of the lipstick counted too – bright red! Again – excitement, glamour, sex, promise. Words like ‘hot’ came to mind, or fiery, tarty, sexy, sleazy, up for it (!)…. Let the imagination run wild.

You then ask – what’s the age of the woman who’d wear this? You build up a picture – not just here age – but what her lifestyle would be. Where she’d wear the lipstick to, and how she’d feel.

I decided she was a sophisticated, older woman who was still dating. She was wearing it because she wanted to feel sexy and let people know she was still open to suggestion.

Ultimately – ideas from the class looked like this.

We called the brand ‘Flirt’. And straplines included:

‘Look good – feel bad’.

‘Let the good times roll’

‘Not just lip service’’

‘What are your lips saying?’

I hope this has inspired you to think differently and more creatively about your copy! Happy writing.