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CREATIVE STRATEGY: When copy's in pole position, it had better be great, Audi

Copy, eh? It's a bugger and no mistake. Should we even bother? A few years ago, one advertising luminary declared, basically, that all press ads should be 48-sheet posters. No more perfectly penned paragraphs, but five words or less.

Audi: 'a day in the life' by BBH

Audi: 'a day in the life' by BBH

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Presumably this notion was driven by the idea that people don’t read any more. And also that the world has become so full of short-form distractions, we no longer have the attention span for anything more than blipverts. 

I beg to differ (and not purely out of self-interest  – being a copywriter by craft). Those that can read are reading more than ever. So for example, Kindle has been selling millions more than the analysts predicted. 

As communications guru Howard Gossage once put it: "The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it's an ad."

So the next question is: "Do you, client, have anything interesting to say?" I frequently despair of client feedback on copy that amounts to "make it punchier".

What they really mean is we’ve so little confidence in the likeability of our brand or the claims of our product, everything has to be bullet points. It's as if, by making the copy as short as possible, more people will read it. Wrong. 

While they may struggle with copy, advertisers seem fascinated by "content", no doubt as first cousin to other buzzy words de nos jours like "engagement". 

Hence we have a new ad for Audi, premiered before Man U and Barca kicked off, that isn’t really an ad at all.

 

Audi have decided to go public with their investment in Le Mans. My accountant, who drives an Audi and a Porsche, tells me Audi believe that Le Mans is a better way to develop road cars than Formula 1. Makes sense, even to a non-petrol head.  

But the new ad doesn’t tell me this. Or anything of note, really. It’s a straightforward facts and figures insider’s account of the race by two-time Le Mans winner Allan McNish.

Unfortunately, as a presenter, he has nothing on his countryman, Neil Oliver, the current poster boy for history and archaeology. 

What of the copy?  It’s OK. But strangely lacking in any passion or personality. Perhaps naively, when I think of motor racing, people like Steve McQueen and Ayrton Senna come to mind. By comparison, the Audi ad is pretty, but bland.

Simon S Kershaw is a creative consultant and a former creative director at Craik Jones.

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