Internet Creative: Think Old, Not New
Type into Google, “Great Print Advertisements 2010,” and plenty of space ads are made available. However, virtually all are art- and photography-heavy with little or no copy—the equivalent of a New Yorker cartoon with a tiny product logo in one of the corners as the caption.
These ads are hot, hip and oh-so-clever. But they make no promises and offer no benefits. The advertising community calls this “creative.”
"If it doesn’t sell, it’s not creative,” stated the Benton & Bowles motto of the 1930s and 1940s.
Check out the Stimorol chewing gum ad by Ogilvy South Africa in the mediaplayer at right.
It is truly bizarre, weird and outré―typical of the smartypants, art-director driven advertising that’s prevalent these days.
Should You Look for Guidance in Current Long-Copy Space Ads?
Once upon a time my personal benchmark for the state of the economy was PARADE magazine, the freebie in my Sunday newspaper. When it runs 16 pages and has no ads for tchotchkes (coins, collectibles, bunny slippers), it’s obvious the economy is still in trouble.
Alas, it is now filled with pharmaceutical ads—long copy and boring as a suitcase filled with rocks. Check out the Januvia diabetes ad from last Sunday’s Parade in the mediaplayer at right. No real headline, tiny sans-serif copy throughout, much of it written by lawyers. It is as stupid and amateurish as the Liberty Medical blizzard of e-mails to people that never had diabetes.
In short, successful writing for the Internet requires every bit as much discipline as the master copywriters that went before—starting with Bishop Regnault de Mouçon of Chartres 800 years ago and all who stood on his shoulders and the shoulders of those who came after.
"Times change,” wrote the legendary John Caples. “People don’t.”