Who Are You Trying To Communicate With?
If I were writing for a bunch of English professors, I’d say, “With whom are you trying to communicate?” Sometimes proper grammar is a necessary casualty of good copywriting.
Don’t get hung up on blindly following the rules. Know when you can throw away the stylebook and write in the voice of your reader and when you can’t.
I’m sure some purists out there may see it differently. They may even note that in this one short piece, I commit a number of grammatical faux pas of my own. Note the sentence ending in a preposition, the sentence fragments, imperfect and some debatable contractions. I assure you, this is purely intentional. I am a copywriter.
If It Ain’t Broken…
Throughout the history of marketing and advertising, copywriters have always chosen what works over what’s perfect. Copy has to read right. It should be Clear, Concise and Conversational.
Let’s take a look at some great, winning ad copy that displays some not so perfect grammar.
“The Few. The Proud. The Marines.”
Three two-word sentences in row? Bad! Bad! Bad? No! Good! Why? It’s Memorable. It’s Easy. It Works.
“Winston Tastes Good Like A Cigarette Should”
If we were in Mrs. Mercer’s English class, I’m sure we’d lose points for saying “like” instead of “as”. Trouble is, most people use “like” because it sounds more natural to them. Moral: Don’t mess with Mother Nature.
OK, I know. It should be “Think Differently”. Good catch. But that’s humdrum and uninspiring. For some reason “Think Different” tested out much better. What can you expect from a computer company named after a fruit? A lot, as it turns out.
“Raid Kills Bugs Dead”
Spawned in 1966 (Happy 50th Anniversary) this overly redundant tag line is still in use today. Is there any other way to kill a bug than dead? Check out Raid’s website URL (www.killsbugsdead.com). Great copywriting is a gift that keeps on giving.
If It Works, It’s Good Copywriting
The most telling test of your talents is not in the awards you may garner, not even in the title on your business card. The most telling test is can you write copy that sells.
Fellow copywriters, maybe we’ll never write the great American novel. (I tried once, but being trained to write tight, all I came out with were nine short stories.) But y’know, I kind of like it better this way.
A truly great novelist and poet, Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World once tried his hand at copywriting. His assessment, “It is easier to write ten effective sonnets than one effective advertisement.”