1. U.S. School of Music’s Classic Example of Ad CopyOne of the most referenced ads in copywriting dates back to nearly a century ago. Published in 1927, “They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano - But When I Started to Play!” by John Caples, marketed the U.S. School of Music’s lessons.
What Makes the U.S. School of Music a Timeless Example?The U.S. School of Music ad implements plenty of techniques that you’ll find used in copywriting today. It uses a cliffhanger in the headline that entices the reader to learn more about the rest of the story. This ad also features a compelling call to action that appeals to the customer’s values and establishes a clear conversion. Most importantly, it taps into human emotions and keeps the reader engaged using storytelling.
How to Apply Their Techniques to Your Copywriting
- Get to know your customers and what appeals to their emotions.
- Find ways to keep your audience reading your copy until the end.
- Define a clear call to action for your audience to follow.
2. Nike’s "Play for the World" Film Advertisement
What Makes the "Play for the World" Ad Copy Inspiring?As a sportswear and equipment brand, Nike appeals to their audience by connecting to their desires for self-improvement and athletic success. You’ll often see their ads using punchy copy that urges action. Nike leaned into their customers’ values to stress the importance of social distancing. They framed staying at home as “playing for the world” — reworking a competitive mindset into a compassionate one.
How to Use Nike’s Video Copy Techniques in Your Project
- Figure out how to make your call to action appeal to your audience’s values.
- Align your goals with your audience’s when framing your copy.
- Use succinct and powerful language when you need your audience to act.
3. Innocent Drinks’ Recycling Revolution WebpageAs part of their dedication to doing good, Innocent Drinks uses recycled material in their packaging. This page breaks down their approach to plastic bottles.
What Makes This Web Copy Clear and Engaging?Innocent Drinks outlines clear sections in their copy that cover the past, present, and future of their packaging. They also define their mission in the page’s first sentence.
How to Apply Innocent Drinks’ Copy Tactics to Your Writing
- Divide your copy into sections, based on topic.
- Begin each of these sections with an engaging header.
- Start your copy with a statement that communicates your mission.
4. Old Spice’s Website Home PageIf you’ve ever read Old Spice product packaging, you know the brand’s flair for humor. Old Spice takes that attitude to the internet on their website’s home page.
What Does the Old Spice Home Page Do to Stay Fun?Many retail home pages only have so many words to get their message across, and Old Spice makes each of them fun. Old Spice uses its tongue-in-cheek uber-masculinity to describe its bundled discounts with the statement “Buy a manly amount and save money.” They frame their shopping calls to action as getting more “awesomeness” and “good smellingness” than ever before.
How to Add Old Spice Freshness to Your Copy
- When your audience and industry allow, use humor to express your message.
- Think of ways to make a mundane call to action, extraordinary.
- Infuse your brand’s personality into your vocabulary to make every word count.
5. Everlane’s Product Category Page for SneakersEverlane sells ethically made, sustainable clothing and accessories. The category page for their shoes explains the materials and steps that go into making their sneakers.
What Makes Everlane’s Sneaker Category Page Stand Out?As a brand focused on transparency and accountability, Everlane has an audience focused on the processes behind their products. They answer their customers’ call for responsibility by detailing the materials and steps used to give their sneakers a low environmental impact.
Keep your copy transparent.Click To Tweet
How to Make Your Copy More Transparent, Like Everlane
- Consider the “how” of your product, in addition to the “what” and “why.”
- Break your process into easy-to-understand steps for your readers.
- Communicate how the process aligns with your customers’ values.
6. ACAG and Saatchi & Saatchi’s "Think Before You Adopt" Print AdThe country of Georgia has a large population of street dogs due to abandonment. To raise awareness about this issue, agency Saatchi & Saatchi created this print ad.
What Makes This Print Ad Impactful?This ad uses few words and structured copy to communicate a world of ideas. The phrase, “Till ___ do us part,” emphasizes the lifelong nature of pet ownership. Meanwhile, the potential obstacles to ownership contrast this saying, and make the reader think before adopting. Saatchi & Saatchi’s text placement on a compelling picture of a dog adds the finishing touch.
How to Use Copy to Make Your Audience Think
- Leverage familiar sayings in unexpected ways.
- Encourage self-reflection.
- Find ways to harmonize your copy with its visuals.
7. Campaign Monitor’s "Just Because You Missed It…" EmailHow do you include potential customers if they can’t make it to one of your events? Campaign Monitor sent an email with helpful resources to list members who didn’t attend their Marketing & Mixology event.
What Did Campaign Monitor Do to Encourage Future Attendance?Campaign Monitor used a technique that we’ll call compassionate FOMO (fear of missing out). They implied what the reader missed, while making them feel included, by sharing resources relevant to the topics they covered at the event.
How to Use Compassionate FOMO in Your Copywriting
- Identify the products and services that appeal most to your customers.
- Give your audience a taste of what you have to offer.
- Leave your readers wanting more, without making them feel rejected.
8. Ad Council’s "Because of You" Landing PageThe Ad Council’s “Because of You” campaign challenges teens to think about their impact on others. It features a website that includes all of the campaign’s video ads and a self-quiz.
What Makes the "Because of You" Website Powerful?While the "Because of You" website has plenty of inspiring copy, we’d like to focus on its “Be the Change” section. It encourages self-reflection by having the reader answer questions about their actions.
What happens when your content asks readers to answer questions about their actions?Click To Tweet
How to Make Compelling Interactive Copy, Like the Ad Council
- Consider what action you want your reader to take.
- Look for ways to encourage that action in your interactive content.
- Work with your web team to present your copy in innovative ways.
9. Ford Motor Company’s Bronco Preview Instagram PostIn July 2020, Ford introduced the newest generation of Broncos in decades. They crafted this Instagram post as part of their lead-up to its release.
What Makes Ford’s Instagram Copy Stand Out?This example of social media copy sets itself apart through its succinct language. Ford’s fans have been looking forward to new Broncos for years, so the image best speaks for itself. The post uses Ford’s unifying message for the addition of the Bronco Sport to the two-door and four-door versions — “Three’s a family.”
How to Use Ford’s Approach to Instagram Copywriting
- Keep your copy punchy to complement strong visuals.
- Develop consistent messaging across your campaigns, including social.
- Understand your followers and their existing knowledge.
10. Thumbtack’s "Keep Your Brain Busy" EmailDuring the COVID-19 pandemic, the online business directory, Thumbtack, sent an email presenting their clients’ lessons — available to customers stuck at home.
What Makes Thumbtack’s Email Copy Engaging?This example of email marketing shows the importance of relevance in writing emails that convert. It identifies the reader’s current problem and provides an accessible solution.
How to Solve Your Reader’s Current Problem With Email Copy
- Consider how today’s happenings could create a challenge for your reader.
- Present your reader with a timely solution to the problem.
- Handle most of the steps needed to access your solution, including decision-making.
11. Gibson’s G3 Bass and Ripper Bass Ads From 1977The website, Vintage Guitar and Bass, describes ad copy from 1977 for the Gibson Ripper and Gibson G3 bass guitars.
What Does This Copy Do to Persuade Customers?Gibson’s ad for the Ripper and G3 establishes the brand as an authority and cites famous customers, like Elton John. When releasing these instruments, Gibson knew they were taking a risk, so they addressed the reader’s potential concerns by sharing their support from well-known musicians.
Confidence is key when it comes to copy.Click To Tweet
How to Build Confidence, Like Gibson
- Establish trust when making a risky choice by showing solid logic behind it.
- Mention authorities who use your product through testimonials or case studies.
- Show confidence in yourself to make your customer feel confident, too.
12. Amazon’s “Showhole” TV Ad
Amazon ranthis TV ad as part of their “Showhole” campaign for the Amazon Fire TV. It defines the feeling you get after finishing a TV show you like as a “showhole."
What Makes the “Showhole” Campaign Copy Stand Out?Amazon found a specific problem that their customers had and defined it using new language. The “Showhole” campaign’s copy made an impression on TV fans. A couple of years after the ad aired, you can still see Twitter users using the hashtag to describe their post-bingeing experience.
How to Define Your Audience’s Problem, Like Amazon
- Discover your customers’ pain points — the specific problems they have with their current product or service.
- Find problems that your customers might not even realize they have.
- Use fun wordplay to define these pain points for your customers.
13. Translators Without Borders’ "Life or Death" Digital AdsA series of web ads for Translators Without Borders demonstrates the importance of accurate translation during a health crisis.
What Do These Ads Do to Communicate an Important Message?The Translators Without Borders go beyond the principle of “show, don’t tell”by showing and telling. Their animated ads demonstrate the confusion that can happen with similar words in different languages, then show examples of COVID-19-related translations. Meanwhile, their static ads have COVID-19-related translations in lesser-known languages, like Mandara and Bangla, to show the organization’s capabilities. After succinctly showing us these concepts, the ads then directly tell us to donate as their call to action.
How to Show and Tell With Your Copy
- Use direct statements to communicate your key message or call to action.
- Balance those statements with rich descriptions or demonstrations.
- Communicate your main points clearly, and have readers experience those ideas through details.
14. John F. Kennedy Library Foundation’s The New, New Frontier Digital Ads
Thisvideo ad for the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation acts as a foundation for their “New, New Frontier” campaign. The campaign urges citizens to define their own "New Frontier" for the modern age. The Martin Agency >created this ad campaign for the foundation.
What Makes This Video Copy Stand Out?Interestingly enough, the agency who wrote the video copy for this ad only needed to write the call to action — the rest comes from John F. Kennedy himself. The majority of the video copy comes from his famous “New Frontier” speech. To reframe John F. Kennedy’s words for the historic challenges facing the United States in 2020, the Martin Agency relied on sharp typography and graphics.
How to Create Impactful Copy Using This Video’s Techniques
- Look back on the past to find timeless messages to share.
- Brainstorm how you can frame your copy with design assets that express your message.
- Work closely with your creative and technical teams to get your point across.
15. Apple’s Create Print Ad“You are not here to do what has already been done.” This Apple print ad from 1997 features a single sentence and a picture of the Create button from the Mac OS.
What Makes This Apple Ad Copy Powerful?Apple transformed its approach to advertising when Steve Jobs returned to the company as CEO in 1997. Their print ads, like those in the “Think Different” campaign, began to rely on minimalist copy that inspired the reader to create. This ad uses an even more simplistic approach than the “Think Different” ads by letting the Mac OS interface speak for itself. With a single button and cursor, it inspires the reader to create with a Mac. It turns a feature into a benefit by providing a new perspective on their OS.
How to Inspire Your Reader Using Apple’s Techniques
- Consider if your copy will perform better with less content.
- Determine how to frame your product’s features as benefits.
- Find ways to present benefits that your customer might not see on their own.
16. CoSchedule’s "10x Marketing Formula" Landing Page Headline and Body CopyWe have an example from our own website — the landing page for our 10x-Marketing Formula book. This page has been very successful at converting potential buyers.
What Elements of This Copy Convert?The page starts with an ultimatum — get marketing results, or fall behind. We followed that statement with a snappy call to action. To define our offering, we provided a quick summary of the book’s three sections. At the bottom of the landing page, you’ll see testimonials from thought leaders, like the founders of Airstory and the Content Marketing Institute.
How to Implement Our Techniques in Your Copywriting
- Cut to the chase with an engaging call to action at the beginning of your content.
- Provide a clear overview of what you have to offer to your reader.
- Get testimonials from thought leaders in your industry whom readers trust.
17. BrewDog’s Double Punk Beer TweetBrewDog introduced its Double Punk IPA to Twitter with a strong statement and a video.
What Gives This Tweet Its Punch?If you’ve ever written Twitter copy, you know that you only have so many characters to make a point. BrewDog relies on this sentence structure to give their short message power:
Subject, description. Subject, description. Call to action.The tweet also calls back to their popular Punk IPA by referring to the “beer that started it all”.
How to Power Up Your Copy Using Sentence Structure
- Study successful social media copywriting formulas and emulate them.
- Consider the effects of sentence length and structure on your copy.
- Know your popular offerings and refer back to them to generate excitement.
18. LaCroix’s Pamplemousse Right Meow Instagram PostAww. This Instagram caption purr-fectly complements its furry star.
What Makes This Instagram Copy Charming?Instagram has a heavy focus on visuals, but you still need to write a caption that sells. LaCroix shared a picture from another account and emphasized their product’s appearance in it. Thanks to the playful matter of the subject, they could add a pun and some emoji without making eyes roll.
It's okay to have playful content.Click To Tweet
How to Add Playfulness to Your Instagram Copy, Like LaCroix
- Use puns when you have a compatible audience and subject matter.
- Don’t shy away from an emoji or two, if your brand can pull it off.
- Look for ways to connect to your audience’s fan content on social.
19. RXBAR’s Product Packaging CopyRXBAR packaging features an iconic list of the bar’s main ingredients, setting it apart in energy bar marketing. You can see some examples on their protein bars product page.
What Makes This Packaging Copy Successful?In 2017, RXBAR’s packaging won the company an Inc. Design Award in 2017. When RXBAR desperately needed a rebrand, the founders moved their pitch of whole-food ingredients to the front of the bar. They wanted to stick to their values of transparency and directness, and the design choice paid off.
How to Put Your Values Front and Center, Like RXBAR
- Define your brand’s values as part of your copywriting brand identity.
- Search for ways to communicate those values through copy tone and structure.
- Work closely with your design team to express your values with harmonious copy and visuals.
20. Threadless’s "Life’s a Pitch" Facebook PostThreadless sells apparel, accessories, and decor that feature community-made designs. This Facebook post highlights one of those designs.
What Makes This Facebook Post Copy Great?This post sums up the design in three cheeky words — “Life’s a pitch.” It highlights one of their creative products with a touch of wordplay.
How to Apply Threadless’s Techniques to Your Social Copy
- Find ways to showcase your products with smart copywriting.
- Determine what makes a product successful, and lean into it with copy.
- Don’t be afraid to get a little indecent, if your audience allows for it.