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“If you say that there are elephants flying in the sky, people are not going to believe you. But if you say that there are four hundred and twenty-five elephants flying in the sky, people will probably believe you.”
– Gabriel Garcia Marquez,
winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature
Ah, the power of details.
Every ad has style and substance, cheese and meat. Most ads are cheese because ad writers are rarely given meat. Style cheese includes layout, angle, tone of voice and hyperbole. Substance meat is provable fact and concrete detail.
My success as a writer is due to the fact that I demand meat from the business owners I serve. I’d much rather fight over meat to put in their ads than apologize to them for their ads not working.
Style affects how people feel. Cheese.
Substance changes what they know. Meat.
Is your advertising meaty or cheesy?
Here’s an example of a 146-word, cheese-filled ad:
Pearls have always been off-white, but not anymore! [STORE] has just received a shipment of colored freshwater pearls. We have a whole panorama of colors to choose from! Come and see these wonderful new fashion items that have arrived just in time for the Spring Season. Come early and shop while the selection is best. Don’t be left out in the cold! Step into Spring with a spring in your step with fashionable, colored freshwater pearls. You’ll always find the newest thing in cutting-edge fashion at [STORE] where we’ve been serving the good people of [TOWN] since [YEAR.] Colored pearls are hot! Colored pearls are cool. And you won’t believe the price. Get yours before they’re all gone at [STORE] where you can see them from 9AM to 6:30PM Monday through Saturday. Colored, freshwater pearls, exclusively at [STORE, LOCATION] or online at [WEBSITE.COM] or call 555-5555.
Here’s another 146-word ad, but with accelerated style and a few chunks of meat:
FEMALE: Wait till you see the colors!
MALE: Silky black,
FEMALE: Blushing pink,
MALE: Supple green,
FEMALE: Wet blue
MALE: Smooth white
FEMALE: Moonglow silver
MALE: Translucent apricot
FEMALE: Dripping chocolate
MALE: Each strand is 16 inches long.
FEMALE: Some strands are all one color.
MALE: Others are multiple colors, a pastel rainbow of freshwater pearls.
FEMALE: At just 79 dollars a strand, 100 strands won’t last long.
MALE: And the East China Sea is a loooooong way from here.
FEMALE: Take a look right now at ____________.com
MALE: Or try them on up-close and personal at [LOCATION.]
FEMALE: Watercolor pearls, exclusively at [STORE.]
- the town of Wen-chow
- a hundred strands
- black, pink, green, blue, white, silver, apricot, chocolate
- Some strands are all one color
- Others are multiple colors
- 16 inches long
- 79 dollars a strand.
- East China Sea
Specifics are more powerful than generalities, even when those specifics merely accelerate your style:
- Rainbow is more specific than panorama and is therefore more easily visualized.
- In his first appearance, the MALE voice says “…make me feel.”
- Each specific color name is then accelerated by the use of a modifier that might also describe a woman’s skin: gentle, soft, silky, supple, wet, smooth, translucent, dripping.
- And most of those tactile words follow the phrase, “the women of [TOWN].”
Roy H. Williams