It's Time to Get Real - Real Honest! (917 words)
Writing a letter that referred even obliquely to flying after Sept. 11 was a real challenge. This letter sounds as if a real person is sharing a dilemma.
Here are some other ideas that appeal to me:
• Don't embellish—inform. Years ago, in a movie called "Crazy People" (the tagline was, "Truth in Advertising"), Dudley Moore played an advertising executive who wound up in a mental hospital. He got the other patients to write copy. The results were hysterically honest: "It might not be the best car in the world, but it will help you meet girls." Or, "This car is ugly and boxy … but it's safe." Truthfulness is so rare that it's refreshing.
• If your product has a limitation, don't hide it—address it. I saw a DRTV ad for a sewing machine my mother might have liked. But it looked as if it might slide around on the table. If the commercial had said, "It's so lightweight it appears to be jumping on its own, but it's really easy to control," or better yet, if it had included some kind of clamp, it would've made a sale.
Volkswagen ads in the 1960s dealt with the drawbacks of the VW bug in a wonderful way that made the car even more desirable. The ads said, "Think small."
Buckley's cough syrup does it, too. Every fall, its ads appear in NYC subways telling us how truly awful it tastes (so it must work).
• Acknowledge concerns. Recently, I got yet another phone call from a broker with "great opportunities" in the market. The call reminded me of the new Schwab commercials in which it shows its competitors pushing stocks they know to be worthless: "Let's put some lipstick on this pig." Brutal, but a great line.