“Are we there yet?”
This could be a person’s longstanding question whenever he or she is on a road trip with family or friends. As a child, I remember road trips on picturesque farms, with carabaos having their lazy dip on the river. There are nipa huts and trees, even plantations. But if the road is far too long, photographic sceneries can be repetitive, later on, a bore. Suffice to say, a long winding road can make traveling wearisome, much like how Donkey felt it on his journey to the Kingdom Far, Far Away in Shrek 2.
Ever since I learned that marketing is part of our lives, everything that I see on the road becomes daily marketing lessons. I am reminded of concepts and best practices in marketing, particularly in copywriting.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a meeting in the metro or a lunch with friends, or even plane travel to the next speaking engagement. I am excited every time I go out of the house. I’m like a kid who’s about to go to school again — this time in a copywriting school on the curve.
If only Donkey had seen billboards and ads on the way to the Kingdom Far, Far Away, he wouldn’t find a way to entertain himself, much to Shrek and Fiona’s annoyance. Donkey could have learned a thing or two in copywriting!
According to the American Writers & Artists Institute (AWAI), copywriting is “the process of writing persuasive marketing and promotional materials that motivate people to take some form of action, such as make a purchase, click on a link, donate to a cause, or schedule a consultation.”
The words used in marketing and promotional materials are called copy, thus the term “copywriting.” To the oblivious, copywriting is in the billboards or television commercials that your eyes mindlessly fixed it gaze on, or the words on that radio spot that faded away from your inattentive ears. Nonetheless, copywriting is everywhere — from your monthly bills to leaflets, Facebook news feed or TikTok ads; to traditional ads on the road to YouTube ads.
Some copywriting on the curve are stunts which many marketers are doing for publicity. As we know, some stunts are just like that — stunts. It gets your attention for a few seconds, then you’re on to the next billboard. On the other hand, there are those ads whose copywriting sticks with you for a few minutes and makes you say to yourself, “Did this brand just voice out what’s in my head?”
When you are consciously learning about marketing and copywriting like me, you’re no longer just looking at road ads just to pass the time or because the billboard’s in front of you. You begin to focus intently on what is shown. Then you identify what the ad is doing that’s great and picking up that great thing. Call me a nerd, but this is what I do every time I am on a thoroughfare.
Now traveling becomes more fun. Even going to the grocery store becomes more exciting and the commute becomes more engaging because you get to see billboards and other ads that piques your attention.
Let me share with you some billboards and ads from local and across the world and its copywriting lessons on the curve. Some of these I have seen from social, while some were shared by colleagues or I saw them myself.
1. The Best Time Ever to Get Braces
As someone who’s been wearing a dental appliance for years, I understand why a person would be glad to cover his braces with a face mask. The company understood that their customers would never have to feel uneasy for getting braces during this time. (On a side note, I do still smile even if I’m wearing a mask.)
2. Is Having a Lighter Skin Mean Beauty?
There are those who believe in equality of all forms regardless of race, religion, and even skin color. And there are those who don’t get it. The campaign, which was shown on the road and online in the Philippines, sparked enraged conversations on unfair advantages and the true meaning of beauty. Well, they say any publicity is still publicity.
One of responses to this ad said, “Whoever came up with this concept needs to be educated — fair skinned people ARE NOT more beautiful, to imply that they are is just wrong. Anyone with half a brain would know this is.”
3. Nose Hair Trimmer
Somebody please give this guy that nose hair trimmer. Oh wait, those are our electricity lines!
4. Big Missed Steak
Credit: Karla Singson
Puns are part of copywriting. And if it’s clever, it just works. And if your product is good, you might convert non-meat eaters.
5. Is Riding a Motorcycle Safe?
Credit: Ann Kristine A. Peñaredondo
35,006 accidents on Philippine roads involved motorcycles in 2019. With this fact, how can you sell motorcycles? Enter 2020.
With the social distancing requirements, this company’s message is clear: When you have your own motorcycle, you’re safe going to work because you’re not sitting beside a possible virus carrier on your commute. The copy provided a way to single out a benefit during a time in need.
Ryan Deiss of Digital Marketer and Scalable said it best, “Copy is a science and an art. It’s the kind of thing you can do your entire life and never master. At the same time, you can do so much better than anyone else by learning just a few things. The number one thing you can do to become a better copywriter? KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER.”
It will always be easy to get carried away talking about yourself, your company, and your products or services instead of providing value to your customer. Getting to know your customer — identifying who they are and discovering their desired end results — is an integral part of successful marketing.
Marketers should deliver value by enabling the people you serve to achieve the transformation they seek. This should be clear in the copy. However, at the end of the day, no matter how the copy is, it cannot make up for a poor quality offer. I dare say: if only people just try to learn on their daily commute or road trips, traveling (sometime in traffic) won’t be an “Are we there yet?” moments.