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Monday, September 14, 2015



We’ve talked about this before and we’re talking about it again. Why? Because it’s worth repeating again and again. Namely, your advertising sucks!


If your advertising has not been proven to be effective beyond a shadow of a doubt then it sucks. There’s only one way to determine advertising effectiveness: does it stimulate pre-determined, important customer behaviors to generate a positive return on investment in growing sales? It’s as simple, and difficult, as that!


We all are well aware that developing effective advertising isn’t simple. In fact it can be quite difficult. In order to develop effective advertising one needs a strategically relevant, meaningfully differentiated message against a select target-customer and deliver it via a big campaign idea. The campaign idea represents the execution of the strategic message you’ve chosen to achieve the brand’s SMART (as in Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound) communication behavior objective.


The campaign idea consists of the creative concept (which we refer to as the “naked” idea), key copy words and core dramatization. All three work in concert to transform the strategic benefit of your communication strategy into compelling customer language. All three dramatize the strategic message to get the target-customer to realize and act on it, which is to trigger achievement of the communication behavior objective.


The vast majority of ads do not contain a campaign idea. This alone should give everyone cause for concern. If your advertising is not fueled by a campaign idea it is an indicator that it most likely sucks. Now this is not to say that having a campaign idea automatically will result in effective advertising. It merely improves the likelihood that your advertising will score with customers in a way that stimulates achievement of the desired behavior.


But rather than talk about the entire campaign idea this article will focus on one of the parts, the key copy words. Now key copy words go by many names. Some marketers and advertisers refer to them as “slogans.” Others call them “taglines.” We insist on referring to them as “key copy words” as they are “key,” as in absolutely essential, in making the brand’s strategic benefit known to and felt by target-customers. They must harmonize with the naked idea and core dramatization so as to deliver an integrated, single-minded message. (If there is no harmony then you have, at best, a slogan or tagline.) Additionally, they serve as a post-it note in the target-customers’ minds so that your brand, and what it represents, sticks.


Compelling Key Copy Words

There are brands whose key copy words have stuck and, importantly, made a difference in driving target-customer behaviors and preference. Do you recall the brand for these? Some go back more than 50-years ago. (Yet we, who have been around during the time recall them vividly.) Can you infer the benefits from the key copy words?

  • Tastes Great. Less Filling.
  • For hair so healthy it shines.
  • (Bet) you can’t eat just one.
  • There’re some things money can’t buy. For everything else there’s …
  • See the USA in your …
  • The relentless pursuit of perfection.
  • Fight halitosis.
  • Fly the friendly skies.
  • We’re number 2. We try harder.
  • You’re worth it.
  • Dirt can’t hide from intensified …
  • … fights ring around the collar.
  • You’re not you when you’re hungry.
  • … is the one beer to have when you’re having more than one.
  • When you care enough to send the very best.
  • A diamond is forever.
  • Think different.

(See the end of the article for the brands and their inferred strategic message.)


Key Copy Words in Politics

Our carnival of politics for the U.S Presidency is currently underway and will continue over the next 14-months with a menagerie of candidates. The GOP (Republican Party) is posting 17-candidates. The Dems (Democratic Party) have 5-confirmed candidates (and some possible new candidates laying in the bush). Politicians have and continue to use key copy words in their campaigns, which the press typically refers to as “slogans,” and probably appropriately so. Key copy words crystallize the campaign promise.


On the GOP side Donald Trump’s key copy words are “Make America Great Again!” Now whether or not he can achieve this, should he be elected president, is another matter. The point is that he has a compelling set of key copy words for those millions of Americans who are disaffected with politicians and unhappy with the direction the country is going and taking. Jeb Bush, who was supposed to be, and may still become, the GOP’s candidate to face-off with Hillary Clinton, uses “Jeb!” as his key copy words. Now the only thing he and Mr. Trump seem to have in common with regard to key copy words is an exclamation mark. “Jeb!” neither conveys what he stands for nor what is in it for the American people other then, well, Jeb!





The subject of “dreams” comes-up with a few of the GOP candidates. “Dream” refers to aspiration and, perhaps, vision. We Americans are believers in dreams, the American dream in particular, and feel it is slipping away due to ineptitude in D.C. (Washington D.C., the seat of our federal government). Candidate Rand Paul urges people to vote for him so together we may “Defeat the Washington Machine. Unleash the American Dream.” GOP candidate Rick Santorum promises to “Restore the American Dream for Hardworking Families.” Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz is about “Reigniting the Promise of America,” which we may infer is our dream. Even the Dems are getting-in on this “dream” thing. Candidate Martin O’Malley is out to “Rebuild the American Dream.”





Obviously this appears to be fertile strategic ground. These candidates are reading what’s in the minds and hearts of the voting populace. On the other hand, Democratic hopeful and pre-ordained nominee former First Lady, senator from New York and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is proclaiming “Hillary for America.” She is linking her name to the key copy words, which is a good practice. We might infer that she means she is going to do well for and by this country. While it sounds like a cheerleader’s slogan she is probably telling us she is the right choice to right America or make it great again or restore the dream. But like Hillary the politician and candidate, it is not quite precise.

The key copy words need to be more than a slogan. They need to convey the strategic message, their promise to the American people. It has to go beyond words to deed, otherwise it is empty, a mere tagline.

Where’s the Beef?

During a recent assignment for a pharmaceutical company we searched for new pharmaceutical advertising examples from a number of key categories (e.g., oncology, diabetes, arthritis, women’s health, among others), both to the health care practitioner and patients (DTC – Direct To Consumer). What we found was alarming.


We weren’t even looking to determine whether the ads contained a campaign idea. Nor were we making value judgments regarding effectiveness. We were just checking to see whether the ads contained key copy words (or even a slogan or tagline). Yes or no? That’s it! We found that less than 30% contained key copy words, a slogan or tagline. Nada (or nothing).


Oh they contained information, more than one could digest. But, there was no post-it note to stick in their target-customers’ minds. There was no crystallization of the strategic benefit in compelling (as in triggering the communication behavior objective) customer language. There was no language. There was no single-minded message. The likelihood that this advertising is effective is not very good. Instead, the likelihood is very high that this advertising sucks

Their marketing is not up to the level of the politicians.


1.     Include key copy words in your advertising – Don’t miss the opportunity to deliver a cohesive and compelling single-minded message to trigger the communication behavior objective.


2.     Make sure your key copy words communicate the strategic message of your communication strategy – The advertising needs to deliver the strategic message and so should your key copy words.


3.     Link the key copy words to the campaign idea – In order to deliver a single-minded message the key copy words need to link to the campaign idea, as in harmonizing with the creative concept (i.e., naked idea) and core dramatization.


4.     Make your key copy words emotive – They need to “dramatize” the strategic benefit. They should burn their way into your mind and heart.


5.     Don’t go forward with advertising that does not include key copy words – Save your marketing support monies. Without key copy words your advertising will be less effective or not effective. In practice, it will probably suck.




It’s time to “make advertising great again!” Start by including key copy words.


Here are answers linking brand and inferred benefit to key copy words. Please note you may have a different interpretation of the inferred benefit. That’s okay since it is open to one’s interpretation. However, when you use key copy words make sure they are precise in conveying the message of your communication strategy.


  Tastes Great.  Less Filling.*   Great beer taste and poundability.
  For hair so healthy it shines.   Healthy, beautiful hair.
  (Bet) you can't eat just one.   Irresistible taste

  There's some things money can't
  buy.  For everything else there's


  Use it on all purchases big and small
  to savor those things that really
  matter in life.
  See the USA in your...   Travel in style.
  LSMFT (Lucky Strike Means
  Fine Tobacco)
  Great tasting smoke.
  The rentless pursuit of
  Exquisite style and performance.
  Fight Halitosis   Overcome bad breath.
  Fly the Friendly Skies.   Favorable in-flight experience.
  We're number 2.  We try harder.   Better autos.  Better service.
  You're Worth It.     Be beautiful.
   Dirt can't hide from intensified...     Gets all the dirt out for cleaner
   ...fights ring aound the collar.**
     Gets "ring around the collar" clean.
   You're not you when you're
     Satisfies hunger. the one beer to have when
  you're having more than one.
    Taste never fades.  Last beer
  is as good as the first.
  When you care enough to
  send the very best.
    Show others how much you
  really care.
   A diamond is forever.
     Eternal love.
   Think Different.
    Unleash your power to change
  the world.


*Some might say the key copy words were “Everything you always wanted in a beer. And less.” However, we believe the real words that conveyed the strategic benefit of great taste and poundability (i.e., you can drink a lot – like a few six packs in an evening) was “Tastes Great. Less Filling.”


** The tag they used was “Wisk gets ring around the collar and your whole wash clean,” but the campaign idea really focused against “ring around the collar.” They created a “disease” so to speak and solved for it with Wisk.


If you didn’t do too well in identifying the brand or inferring the strategic message don’t be too hard on yourself. Some of these key copy words first appeared during the 1940’s and many others probably well before you were born.


On the other hand if your advertising does not contain key copy words then, well, get to work.

Best wishes in making your advertising great again,



Richard Czerniawski & Mike Maloney

Richard Czerniawski

430 Abbotsford Road

Kenilworth, Illinois 60043

tel 847.256.8820 fax 847.256.8847

reply to Richard: or



Mike Maloney

1506 West 13th

Austin, Texas 78703

tel 512.236.0971 fax 512.236.0972

reply to Mike: or

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