Why long copy makes up for Tesco's Twitter silence
I once asked an ad creative to write a couple of paragraphs about a piece of work he was very proud of. We needed a pithy summary of the ad: 200-odd words, maybe less. And we needed our couple of paragraphs within 48 hours: a luxurious amount of time for deadline-driven journalists, but not, as it turns out, for those ad creatives who find it hard to write anything longer than a strapline.
This particular creative was very keen to write his couple of paragraphs for us - but could he send it through next Thursday (in eight days' time)? But it's only a few hundred words, we said. He was very definite though; he simply didn't have the time and couldn't see that he would do for at least a week. So we dropped his work from our feature and found another creative with a flair for writing. They are rare beasts.
I wonder how long Tesco's creatives at Wieden & Kennedy have had to work on the long-copy press ads that have been running across the past week. More than a couple of days, but not much more probably.
The ads are all about how Tesco is cleaning up its food-supply chain, and as a piece of brand communication they have enormous clout as they contain lots of words; until you see an ad with lots of words, you don't realise how far they have fallen out of fashion. And these are well-written words. They give Tesco a real voice, and even the beginnings of some personality. They imply a respect for its audience, perhaps (finally) some empathy and certainly some humility.
It's such a crucial time for the Tesco brand; its reputation has perhaps never been more vulnerable. The severity of the situation demands something bold and brave, and the ads hit that target. These are not 140-character bullets fired off by someone in Tesco's PR department, for whom the customer is a hazy sideshow (though as Gordon MacMillan points out on page 17, Tesco's silence on Twitter is surprising). The press ads feel like the result of a clear understanding that relationships are built on proper dialogue where you say what you need to say (not just what you've got space to say) and you credit your audience with the capacity to absorb more than simply a soundbite.
In reviving the dying art of long-copy advertising, Tesco might just have started on the road to rebuilding its brand.
This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk
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