Schweppes: the lost art of long copy print ad

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It is quite uncommon to see well-written, long copy print ads in today’s advertising. There are several reasons contributing to this situation. Visual driven communication dominates static advertising. We are all time poor nowadays thanks to the increase in media clutter. There are far too many things vying for our attention and we can only consume so much. So, telegraphic messages which drive home a point in quick time are the order of the day.

It is also common for clients to dismiss long-copy ads with ‘who has the time to read body copy nowadays?’. But I believe what Howard Gossage said in the 1950s still holds true:

People don’t read ads. They read what interests them. Sometimes it is an ad.

In my view, if the ad is pitched to the right audience and ‘crafted’ well, they will read. For example, if I am in the market for buying a laptop or an apartment, I would like as much information as possible. The information can be sourced from a website, a blog post, tweets, Facebook posts, TV ads or print ads. As long as the information is relevant and presented well to suit that medium, there is a good chance I will imbibe the information. Long copy print ads must be viewed in that context.

Also, creatives who write copy in advertising agencies are not used to long form writing. They are likely to be digital natives and are comfortable creating visual-driven ads or TV scripts. They have really not been challenged in the art of long copy. They have not been trained either and so it is uncommon to find young copywriters who can actually write good copy nowadays. I have also seen many copywriters who are keen to dream up the next big activation, ambient idea or a stunt for a brand. But copy writing in the classic sense may not be their strength. There is something to be said about reading habits, education and early influence in writing – they all play a part in developing skills in the copywriting department.

In the early 90s, I was at Trikaya Advertising as an AE and the agency created legendary print ads. The copywriters then crafted copy, which was a joy to read. Intriguing headline, clever copy (often laugh out loud stuff), well-woven product story and the last line that ‘ties-in’ with the headline were all common. I was reminded of all this when I saw the ads for Schweppes in the dailies recently.


Click here for a hi-res image. Agency: Equus

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