Ever since my first book was published—a cookbook spoof called, The Gourmet Guide to Water Cookery—I have had a continuing fascination with water. (The book is still available, if not on Amazon, probably on eBay, for less than the cost of reading this blog.)
So when I noticed these ads for two different bottled waters in the same issue of a magazine, I wondered if the same copy cub had written both of them. Because they both were based on the same writing style, consisting of circular reasoning and peculiar promises.
Poland Spring claims it is “Born Better.” As compelling evidence, the copy states that it comes from carefully selected natural springs. (I guess implying their competition prefers randomly chosen locations.) It adds that when you start with something better, you get something better. Which is fairly circular in its logic and of course, they never really state what they mean by “better,” and why they are better.
The Smartwater ad throws in some borrowed—though eye catching—interest. And then tells us, in the one line of copy, that it is, “Smart because simplicity should be savored.” If you are not overwhelmingly convinced by that piece of logic to rush out and purchase some, the slogan should convince you of the futility of doubting their hypothesis. “Smart because it’s made that way.” So there!
Just as big budgets can to some degree overcome vapid messages, because they will be seen over and over till they slowly sink in, so too can large blocks of copy occasionally accommodate tentative, vague thinking, if each sentence builds your proposition.
But if you are dealing with just a few words in your copy, it is vital that each one carries its weight; weak words are exposed more readily when there are no paragraphs to hide behind.
Before you are cryptic and clever, try being clear.
Got the idea?