After my last post on the grammatical issues in a series of real estate ads, I got a lot of comments from people who said grammar doesn’t matter — concept is key. They’ve got a point. A good concept can get by with weak writing while a weak concept won’t fly, even with excellent writing.
Ideally, though, an ad has both a good concept and solid writing to back it up.
Let’s get specific. Here’s an ad that has a good concept that is visually compelling. The art director created an image that makes a viewer pause and reinforces the value of the product. The headline works, too.
But if you look closely at the body copy that follows, it’s a little weak. Here’s what it says:
“If you’re looking for a fungicide that delivers greater surface contact and improved efficiency, Cuprofix Ultra Disperss has you covered. With its patented Disperss technology, this high-quality, fixed copper sulfate formulation disperses quickly and stays in suspension, virtually eliminating problems such as clogged filters and nozzles. So if you want to protect your citrus crop from greasy spot and melanose and help with citrus canker, get Cuprofix Ultra today. To learn more, contact your UPI distributor or UPI sales representative.”
It’s not wrong or sloppy, but it isn’t doing much to support the concept, is it? Let’s analyze the issues, sentence by sentence.
There’s a good phrase in that first sentence that reinforces the image — the product “has you covered.” But you’ve got to get through 20 words to reach it. And there’s a parallel construction issue, too — it’s described as a fungicide that “delivers greater surface contact” and “improved efficiency” — wait, say that again? We either need another verb before the efficiency aspect (maybe “offers improved efficiency”) or we have to try again. So how about this as a replacement for the first sentence:
“Looking for a fungicide with outstanding surface contact and efficiency? Cuprofix Ultra Disperss has you covered.”
The second sentence uses that Disperss word again as well as “disperses” as a verb — it’s getting repetitious, don’t you think? The wordiness seems to interfere with explaining the benefits of the dispersal technology, too.. So how about this:
“With patented technology to disperse quickly and keep the active ingredients in suspension, this fixed copper-sulfate solution keeps filters and nozzles virtually clog-free.”
We’ve got another parallel construction problem with the third sentence and more wordiness issues. And we’ve lost the original idea of the second layer of skin. A suggested rewrite:
“To combat greasy spot, melanose and even citrus canker, give your crops the extra protection of Cuprofix Ultra.”
I’m not quite sure what the call-to-action is here, because the only contact people are just distributors and sales reps. But let’s see how the first three sentences read now:
“Looking for a fungicide with outstanding surface contact and efficiency? Cuprofix Ultra Disperss has you covered. With patented technology to disperse quickly and keep the active ingredients in suspension, this fixed copper-sulfate solution keeps filters and nozzles virtually clog-free. To combat greasy spot, melanose and even citrus canker, give your crops the extra protection of Cuprofix Ultra.”
The word total is down to 58 from the original 70 words, and brevity is always a plus in advertisements. At the risk of seeming immodest, I think it reads with more punch and power this way and it gives more weight to the concept by reinforcing it verbally more clearly.
What do you think? My comments function is working again — let’s hear from you!