Tag Archives: copy

Aveda Cosmetics

In this ad for Aveda, I see a model who looks slightly uncomfortable. She’s bent over, bracing herself with her left hand against her thigh. My eye starts at the model’s face, then moves down to her waist, lingers for a moment at her backside, slides down her thigh, and then sees this part of the headline:


I apologize for this in advance, but at this point, I’m thinking: What…did she fart?

Then I look and see windmills. Wind power…wind mills. Are they touting how they generate power?

Then it hits me like a revelation: She’s not farting! SHE’S POSING LIKE SHE’S A WINDMILL!

The angles in the model’s body mimic the windmill. Her hair is blowing like the blades of the windmill.

I revisit the headline:


In this ad, the Aveda company doesn’t say anything about their products. They just want to spread the word that they use wind power to generate electricity.

While it’s admirable that this company uses wind power, wouldn’t it be a better idea if the company touted the value of their products.

I can imagine a reader talking to her husband while looking at this ad in a magazine:

“Honey, it says here that Aveda is the first beauty company manufactured with 100% wind power. Let’s go to the store and buy some of whatever it is they make.”

“What do they make?”

“Let’s see…they say they’re a beauty company. And it says they’re a cosmetic manufacturer. That’s all I can find. Wait…I found some tiny print under the logo.”

“What’s it say?”

“I don’t know. It’s so small I can hardly read it. I think it says: The art and science of pure flower and plant essences.”

“Great. So what do they sell?”

“I don’t know. Essences.”


“And they use wind power.”

“What are we waiting for? We can be at the mall in fifteen minutes!”

To make this ad even weirder, there’s this line:


This ad is like a box of chocolates. You don’t know what you’re gonna get.


LG Decoy

How to Create a Bad Ad

  1. Take a product that’s not that big of a deal and hype it as if it was the greatest invention since..um…the light bulb.
  2. Make the headline difficult to read.
  3. Design your ad badly.

The hype here is in the headline:


What LG claims the world has been waiting for is a bluetooth headset that plugs into the phone to charge. This is probably handy for people who travel and don’t want the hassle of having to charge two different devices using two different chargers. But LG wants us to believe that the world has been waiting for their phone with the built-in bluetooth charger.

In fact, a device like this isn’t really a good idea for the following reasons:

  • If the headset breaks or gets lost, you’ll have to order a replacement from the manufacturer. This will  probably cost more than buying a bluetooth headset from the local discount electronics store.
  • If the headset breaks or gets lost, and the manufacturer stops making the phone, you’ll have to buy a new bluetooth headset that will have to be charged externally. I don’t know what the production life of a typical model of cell phone is, but a year seems about right.
  • If the phone breaks or you want to replace it, you’ll have to buy a new phone and a new bluetooth headset because you won’t have any way to charge the headset.
  • If you’ve had the phone for awhile and decide that you’re not happy with the headset, you’re basically stuck with it.

The fact that the ad’s headline is difficult to read all but assures that the reader will simply turn the page. Those who bother to read the headline will look below it, see a cell phone, think what’s the big deal about a cell phone? and then turn the page.

Four of the remaining five people who bother to read the copy will think: I already have a cell phone and a bluetooth headset. Gas is so freakin’ expensive that I can’t afford to buy anything new right now.

The one guy left who thinks this might be a great idea just went out and bought the new iPhone…which, after all, is what the world has been waiting for.

Eclipse Gum

This may not be the prettiest ad, but it only takes a few seconds to know that Eclipse gum doesn’t just mask bad breath, it kills the germs that cause it.

I don’t chew gum, but if I did, I woud chew this gum.


Fuze Green Tea

Fuze would like you to drink their green tea. They’ve decided that the way to do this is to tell you about their bottle. That’s right, their bottle is made of UNBREAKABLE GLASS!


Marketing the packaging probably won’t sell this product. I don’t know anyone who is going to run to the store to buy a drink because the manufacturer ran a full page ad extolling the virtues of the bottle it comes in.

At the bottom left of this ad, I found some indecipherable writing. Closer inspection yielded this:

I don’t know how much it cost Fuze to have People print this customized message. Was it worth it? Is this going to get me to go to the company’s “World Wide Web Internet page?” Why should I?

Here’s what the advertiser was hoping I would think:

Oh look, here’s an ad  for that great Fuze Green Tea. I love Fuze. Wow, it comes in an unbreakable glass bottle. Holy crap, how great is that? I have to buy some of that tea!  Hey, look at that…there’s a message on the ad WITH MY NAME ON IT! These guys know my name and they want me to go to their world wide web Internet page to learn more about their unbreakable glass bottle! Get me to the computer! I love these guys!

Reality check, anyone?

JELL-O Singles Pudding

Here’s an ad with an image that completely explains the product. Mix JELL-O Singles with milk and you have a single serving of pudding.

The headline is perfect:


The copy explains that JELL-O Pudding Singles is sugar free and 80 calories. Unfortunately, no one is going to read the copy, so the point about the product being for dieters is lost. That being said, this ad works better than about 99% of all the ads out there.

The truth is that most advertising agencies are clueless. The agency that created this ad for JELL-O Singles understands how to create an ad.

Pepcid Heartburn Relief

Here’s an ad that almost gets it right.

The headline:


The copy below the headline:

Try PEPCID whenever heartburn strikes and tell us how it worked for you at PepcidChallenge.com. If you don’t love the relief, your money will be cheerfully refunded.

The headline is simple and effective. If you don’t like this product, Johnson & Johnson will refund your money. Cheerfully.

But the creatives at the ad agency couldn’t resist trying to be clever and substituted a heart for the letter O in the word LOVE. Get it? Love…heart…heartburn. How clever!

But what is it? It kind of looks like a heart. Or maybe it’s an apple. Or a plush toy in the shape of a heart. Is there going to be an offer selling plush heart toys? Or plush apple toys?

The ad contains a call for action: visit a web site to tell the company how the product worked. But without an incentive, why would anyone take time out of their busy day to visit a web site and write about their experience with heartburn relief medicine? Why should they?

I don’t care if one dose of Pepcid will cure my heartburn for the rest of my life, the only thing that’s going to motivate me to visit their web site and write about their product is a sweepstakes with a chance to win a trip to Europe, or a car, or at the very least, a chance to win one of 50 iPhones.

The copy should have read:

Try PEPCID whenever heartburn strikes. Tell us how it worked for you at PepcidChallenge.com and you can win a trip to Italy.

Another problem with this campaign is the URL of the web site. PepcidChallenge.com was probably intentionally made to sound like Pepsi Challenge, an ad campaign that PepsiCo has been using since 1975. Because of this confusion, when I typed the URL to Pepcid’s site, I mistyped it as pepsidchallenge.com, where there is no web page. I’m probably not the only person to make this mistake.

Then there’s the refund offer. In order to get the refund, the consumer has to first visit the web site, where they find out they have to:

  • Include the original UPC from the PEPCID carton or bottle.
  • Send the original store receipt with the purchase price circled.
  • Download a pdf refund form from the company’s web site, print it, and fill it out.

If a consumer buys this product and then decides she doesn’t like it, she won’t realize that she needed to visit a web site to get the refund because it’s not explicitly stated in the ad.

If Johnson & Johnson was serious about the refund offer, they’d print a toll-free refund hotline number right on the product label.

Olympus E-3 Digital Camera

Copywriter and SEO professional Marc Librescu reviews ads on AdMonkey.

While this ad for the Olympus E-3 camera features a great photo, it’s not a great ad.

The first (and only) thing the reader notices is an absolutely arresting photo of someone who looks like an Indian or an Australian Aborigine.

If the reader’s eye ever leaves the photo before turning the page, this is the headline:


The reader might think that the ad is trying to say that this camera is good at recording details such as the beard hairs, the pores in the skin, and the cracks in the paint on the subject’s forehead.

That’s the message I came away with after seeing this ad in various magazines. If you asked me what company the ad was for, I would have said Cannon. Let’s be honest, if you buy a Nikon, Cannon, or Olympus digital SLR, you’re going to get a camera with superb optics.

But that’s not the message of the ad. They’re actually saying that as a photographer, you don’t take the details for granted (whatever that means) and the engineers at Olympus paid a lot of attention to the details when they built the camera. In order to understand this message, the reader has to read the box of copy at the bottom of the page, which the designers of this ad have made all but impossible by making the box semi-transparent. The text fights with the texture of the beard and makes reading this copy a chore.

Let’s go back and re-state what marketers should, but don’t understand:

  1. People don’t read ads. Most people will simply turn the page.
  2. The best you can hope to do is use an image that makes your point and link it with your product in a way that gets the message across in a glance.
  3. If you need lots of copy to make your point, you need to rethink your ad.
  4. If you ignore #3 and think that you have to include lots of copy, make the headline so compelling that the reader has to read it. A headline that reads: FREE GOLD gives the reader a reason to read the accompanying copy. And the copy had better explain how the reader can get free gold or the deal is off.
  5. If you’re going to include lots of copy in your ad, at least make it clear and easy to read. If the reader has to work to read your ad copy, you’re ensuring that no one will read it.

Olympus has created an ad with a compelling image. Unfortunately, that’s all that the reader is going to remember.