The Long and Short of Copy

How often have we heard that when it comes to copy in advertising , LESS is MORE? Well, more or less. Don’t you hear it all the time? There is a copywriting anthem, “The more you tell, the more you sell.”

Does anyone read those long ads that seem to go on for days? Bob Bly advises that the length of your copy depends on three things : the product, the audience and the purpose. Joe Sugarman says that the need for longer copy hinges on the price point and the unusualness of the item. The higher the price and the more unusual the product, the greater the need for longer copy.

I am not a big fan of short copy. It tends to be vague and isn’t fully representative of the product or service that’s being sold.

Take a look at this…

Isn’t that great?

This ad walks the middle ground between long and short copy. But it’s smart, funny and attention-grabbing. Written in everyday language.

All this in a car rental ad. Simply incredible!

It manages to target the right audience (your competitors customers) in just the right way. And it accomplishes this with finesse. It also works because it forgoes bland corporate speak in favour of a more natural fun way of addressing the consumer. Given that it’s a little bit male oriented and it’s a thin line between objectifying women and pure tongue-in-cheek humour. Still, it grabs eyeballs in the way that it was intended.

We don’t know what kind of internal communication went to the female staffers of Avis. Imagine something along the lines of ” Ladies..we are incorporating a new wink policy. Please see the attached creative and begin following its instructions. Don’t be alarmed. Winking at male patrons is fully safe, since we’ve forewarned them that it’s only for business. But just to be safe, do carry Pepper Spray to work.” 🙂

Well, while Avis as a brand, glorified being No.2 and trying harder, this copy certainly pushed a few boundaries. Avis used its “We Try Harder” tagline for 50 years before replacing it in 2012 with “It’s your Space” targeted at busy business travellers.

Our industry speaks a lot about novelty and authenticity but we seem to have misremembered what those words mean. These days most ads are interchangeable with other brands in the same category. BIG Images, SHORT Copy and LOUD Calls to Action (CTAs).

It’s not surprising that you rarely see engaging copy like this anymore. When you take time and use the right words to describe who you are, ultimately your customers will begin agreeing with you. When you use the appropriate voice and language to own your image, you will find that it’s only a matter of time before you begin attracting customers more than pursuing them. That’s the long and short of it.

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