Story-Telling For Copywriters…

This weekend I had the fortune of meeting two very interesting people: Ray and his wife, Barbara are Chicago natives who have spent the better part of their lives living in different countries around the world, most notably on the African continent. In fact, two of their children were born in Africa. We sat and spoke for almost an hour or more about their travels and experiences and life in general. One observation we agreed upon was that no matter where you were in the world, people were the same. We’re all looking for the same happiness, the same place in the sun.

So what has this to do with copywriting?

A lot has been said about “sharing stories” when it comes to advertising. And the copywriter is the primary story-teller. So it’s not enough to just tell us about your product, you need to find a way to connect with people.

So how do you create your stories?  You need to find the human truth within the product, the story that will resonate with your reader on an emotional level. And the best way to do that is to appeal their emotions: sadness, happiness, nostalgia, even anger… Show your reader, your audience, why they should give a damn…

An emotion precedes a response. Anything else is simply indifference. Tie your copy to an emotion and you can resonate with your reader…

As an example, here’s a piece that was written more than century ago. It’s called “Desiderata”  and if it doesn’t resonate with you, you may need to have your vital signs checked.

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

And people say long copy is dead.

Ok. So how do you apply this in a contemporary format? I’m not a fan of Television ads, but this probably the most brilliant example of emotive advertising I’ve seen in a while.

A really great ad from Ogilvy. Emotionally resonant without being forced or cheesy. Human truth…that’s the bullseye…


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