Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Just a song before I go.

There has been much is the trade-press of late about the obsolescence of words in advertising. The new MasterCard permutation, which is wordless, was cited as an indication that our time-pressed and scarcely literate consumer eschews phonemes and morphemes and is content with pictures.

I couldn't disagree more. I think the fault lies not in the words but in ourselves. We have failed to make words visual and interesting and non-cliched.

In early 1941, one of my communication heroes, Franklin Roosevelt, faced a dilemma. The British Empire was about to fall to the Nazis and the isolationists in the US (and there were many) were vehemently against the US providing materiel aid to the UK. FDR hit upon the idea of loaning the Brits weapons. A hard sell.

Here are the words Roosevelt used to sell his loan plan to the public. "A man would not say to a neighbor whose house was on fire: 'Neighbor, my garden hose cost me fifteen dollars; you have to pay me fifteen dollars for it.' He would lend the neighbor his hose and get it back later.

This simple copy won the day. We loaned the UK and later the USSR billions of dollars of weapons and they were able to stay the Nazi advance until the full-force of the US entered the fray.

That's copy. When it's good, it works.

No comments: