Copywriting Tips

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John Powell

I’ve just been reading Pat Quinn’s revised book, The Secrets of Successful Copywriting. In it he says you can always take an old idea and give it a new lease of life with a simple twist. But he warns, make sure in doing so that (a) you’ve rehashed the idea with some originality, and (b) you don’t tear the fundament out of it.

This advice came to mind when I popped out for a pub lunch the other day. The pub in question is part of a nationwide chain which is running a promotion whereby, if you buy two glasses of wine, you get a third free.

They are promoting this splendid offer via a poster campaign throughout the chain; and a very nice, and expensive poster it is too. A2, full colour, with some very crisp photography of a bottle of wine and a half filled glass. So far so good.

Now I can only assume the copywriter who wrote the poster was sick to death of the hundreds of ads and supermarket point-of-sale materials that tell you Buy this and get this free – so he or she went for what they misguidedly thought was originality and came up with the alternative headline:

BUY 3 FOR 2.

Is that improving on?

Buy Two Glasses Of Wine

And Get One Free.

Perhaps my brain is addled with too much wine, but it seems to me the reworked headline is confusing, whereas the well used version leaves no room for doubt about what’s being offered. And my opinion seems to be borne out by a quick chat with the lovely bar girl. She told me that 8 out of 10 customers who order a glass of wine have to be told about the offer. In my book this means that the pub chain could have saved a fortune on posters.

Oh, one more point about the poster. The guy or gal who wrote it came up with a curious tagline. Underneath the pic of the bottle and glass of wine it says:

Quench your thirst.

Hardened tippler, I may be. Potential coach for the English Olympic drinking team for sure; and I await the phone call from the Committee with cheerful confidence. However, I’ve never thought of dowsing a thirst by guzzling wine. This is a case, I feel, of writers having no idea whatsoever about the motivations of their target market.

You drink beer to quench a thirst, but you drink wine in order to develop a nice, warm buzz, along with an eloquence that startles even you.

Therefore, a more pertinent tagline might have been:

Drink up – your third glass is on us.

Come to think of it, that would probably have made a far better headline!


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© Markethill Publishing 2005.

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Helping copywriters attract top earnings with words that sell without struggling for years. Transforming frustrating jobs into extraordinary freedom with sales persuasion insights. Inspired by world-renowned copywriter Patrick Quinn.