The eminently quotable Howard Luck Gossage once said: “The object of advertising should not be to communicate with your consumers and prospects at all, but to terrorize your competition’s copywriters.”
And nothing produces more envy in a copywriter than beautiful writing in an ad.
Even the most hardened and pragmatic ear cannot help but be moved at times by language and narrative that reaches the level of poetry.
Listen to the sound of these lines, for their rhyme, alliteration and rhythm:
• “We will sell no wine before it’s time…” (Ernest & Julio Gallo)
• “The relentless pursuit of perfection” (Lexus)
• “You can spend a lifetime trying to change the world. Or you can just let the world change you.” (Newfoundland/Labrador tourism campaign)
Or deliberately asymmetrical or odd phrasings:
• “Think different” (Apple)
• “Impossible is nothing” (Adidas)
Or the use of a good turn of phrase:
• “We earn our wings every day.” (Eastern Airlines)
• “For people who don’t have sense enough to come in out of the rain.” (London Fog)
• “When it pours, we reign.” (London Fog)
Here’s a recent Johnnie Walker short film with the amazing Robert Carlysle – a feat of production and shooting, along with a script that is incredibly beautiful. Brand storytelling as high art:
And in an example of the literal use of poetry, here’s a recent Levi’s spot that excerpts Walt Whitman to great effect:
All of these campaigns were written by accomplished and well-trained writers, master verbal technicians who understood how the sound and the meaning of writing must work together perfectly in order to convey a message that will captivate the mind and not let go.
After all, what is poetry but the art of using language to capture emotion? And what is good poetry but all that emotional depth, delivered in a way that you want to repeat over and over, like rolling a fine wine back and forth in your mouth before you let it slide down your throat and become a part of your very chemistry.