๐Ÿ’Ž On self-praise being no commendation

Self-praise is no commendation. (If I say I am the best copywriter in Britain, you wouldn’t listen, if Dan Wieden said so, you might be fooled into believing it.) Also, raw statistics are more convincing than polished opinions. (A car that does 68 MPG sells better than one thatโ€™s โ€œoutstandingly economicalโ€.) Beware of adjectives. They donโ€™t always do what you think. (You’re all concerned about kitchen cleanliness but would you fancy a snack bar called โ€œThe Hygienic Cafรฉโ€?)

Excerpt from: D&Ad Copy Book by D&AD

๐Ÿ’Ž On copywriting (briefly)

So, gather your facts and get under the skin of your target. Talk to them in their language, not the Queenโ€™s. What else? Be brief. I believe it was Pascal who added an apology to the bottom of a long letter, explaining that he hadnโ€™t had time to write a short one. Why take twenty words to say what you could say in five? Why decide on a long copy ad when a poster-in-the-press will do? For most people, and particularly women who work outside as well as inside the home, money isnโ€™t the most precious commodity these days; time is. We copywriters would do well to respect that.

Excerpt from: D&Ad Copy Book by D&AD


๐Ÿ’Ž It’s better to express claims as facts (since facts are more believable than claims)

2. Since facts are more believable than claims, it’s better to express claims as facts.

In advertising, claim is often a euphemism for lie. Many of these euphemised lies are specially constructed to wiggle past lawyers and network censors. You can’t say your peanut butter has more peanuts, not without a notarised peanut count, but you can say someone will be a better mother if she serves it. At your arraignment all you have to do is plead Puffery. All charges are dropped. Puffery forgives everything. To lawyers and censors, it’s okay to lie as long as you lie on a grand enough scale. To everyone else, a lie is still a lie, and it’s almost always transparent. That’s why, instead of just asserting that BMW was a good investment, a BMW ad used the car’s high resale value to prove the point. And it did so, not by comparing the car to other cars but to other investments people in that target audience might make: โ€œLast year a car outperformed 318 stocks on the New York Stock Exchange.โ€

Excerpt from: D&Ad Copy Book by D&AD

๐Ÿ’Ž Write for you (not I)

It helps if your copy has a natural, conversational style. To achieve this, as Jim Durfee has suggested, imagine you’re sitting opposite your prospect and then, in the guise of the brand you’re representing, write as you’d speak.

This means using language they’ll understand instantly. Which words are they? Well, of the 80 most-used words in the English language, 78 have an Anglo-Saxon root. These are the short, simple words we use every day.

There’s one short, simple word you should use a lot. Read your copy and check that โ€œyouโ€ appears three times more than โ€œIโ€ or โ€œweโ€. This helps you write about the subject from the reader’s perspective.

Excerpt from: D&Ad Copy Book by D&AD

๐Ÿ’Ž Five things that are more or less true about copywriting (not rules or laws!)

I’ve never been much of a theoriser about copywriting but here are five things that I think are more or less true:

1. Put yourself into your work. Use your life to animate your copy. If something moves you, chances are, it will touch someone else, too.
2. Think visually. Ask someone to describe a spiral staircase and they’ll use their hands as well as words. Sometimes the best copy is no copy.
3. If you believe that facts persuade (as I do), you’d better learn how to write a list so that it doesn’t read like a list.
4. Confession is good for the soul and for copy, too. Bill Bernbach used to say โ€œa small admission gains a large acceptanceโ€. I still think he was right.
5. Don’t be boring.

Excerpt from: D&Ad Copy Book by D&AD

๐Ÿ’Ž On the best copy (and revolutions)

It’s good discipline for a writer to work at a place that doesn’t believe in writing. I spent three years at BBH, where less was most definitely more. “The best copy” John Hegarty would say, “is no copy.” And: “If the French could inspire a revolution with just three words: “Liberte, Egalite, Fratenite”, why should you need any more than that to sell soap powder?”

Excerpt from: D&Ad Copy Book by D&AD

๐Ÿ’Ž On writing copy for a specific person not a demographic (it should be a conversation between two human beings)

All the while I have fixed in my mind a mental picture of who will read what Iโ€™m writing.

I donโ€™t mean โ€œAB males aged 35-44 with a promiscuous attitude to white spirits.โ€ I mean I think of an actual person, be it a friend, neighbour or relation, who is in the target audience.

When I see that person in my mind, I know what will appeal to them.

That way I can write copy the way I believe all copy should be written: as a conversation between two human beings rather than an announcement from manufacturer to consumer.

Excerpt from: D&Ad Copy Book by D&AD