We all know it, copywriting can be hard. Coming up with catchy slogans and struggling with writer’s block for hours, it’s exhausting. Is it really worth it?
A recent study from Microsoft says we now have the attention span of 8 seconds….which is less than a goldfish. (Sad, but true.) So from an advertiser’s perspective, how do capture your part of those 8 available seconds and cut through the clutter of an over-marketed society?
The answer is easy, right? Imagery. They say pictures are worth a thousand words, so why muddy up your advertising with words when you can have an image to do it for you? Plus, the “written word is dead” or so they say. And nobody will read it anyway.
Just take a look at how the written word has changed in recent history. It went from pages of handwritten letters, to short, quick emails, to even shorter text messages and now, your text messages are now using images with emojis. Honestly, it’s a miracle you’ve made it this far in this blog.
Advertisers have made the shift as well. We used to see ads loaded with text. But that was before we could focus longer than our pet goldfish…ah the good ol’ days. There is no way you’d see an ad like that now.
Why? Because nobody reads it anyway. So is this fact or fiction? Our marketing team put this to the test to see if words really do matter. Let’s test a few examples.
First up is this city-based ad. Without the words, one could wager a guess it was about exploring the great outdoors, getting out of the city and climbing an actual mountain instead of the subway stairs. Now click over to the next slide.
Well, it’s not about vacationing at all. It’s about handicap accessibility. Those 5 words, “For some, it’s Mt. Everest” changes your complete perception of this ad. Just 5 short words and you have suddenly changed the way you interact with this ad.
So in this case, words actually do matter.
Next up we’re taking a turn down a more serious road with this image of a young boy who has obviously been abused. It’s a super powerful image, no doubt about that. But does this image really say it all?
Put the words back in and suddenly, you find out that this boy has “his mother’s eyes.” He’s surrounded by abuse. His mother is being abused. For all we know, if we don’t do something, this child is in for a lifetime of abuse. And it’s all because of that short sentence that had the power to connect us either further with this message and even gives us the urge for action. So in this instance, it’s a good thing words matter.
Up next is a stark contrast between a lush forest and one that is barren. The image captures your attention just by seeing the two side-by-side, but what if there was a way to make this stand out even more? And what if it all it took was to add in two, clever words?
Do you see how much those words helped to get this ad noticed? Humor. Whit. Impact. You didn’t get that from just the image, did you? People might actually read this because these words are cleverly creative and effective.
Sometimes obvious imagery can still hinder the way an ad is perceived and you run the risk of people not fully getting your point. In this ad, without the words, we can see this a smoking ad. With the play on crayons as cigarettes, maybe it means the smoking age is getting increasingly younger. Or maybe it isn’t. Without words, you are leaving this solely up to interpretation.
When you add the words back in, we see it is actually giving you a statistic for a very specific group of children who are affected by smoking. It’s speaking to a target demographic and is extremely impactful. The words and the image compliment each other beautifully in this ad.
Lastly, sometimes it’s just obvious that words make the ad. Take this ad for example. Without the words it leaves you wondering, “why the hell is a water company sponsoring a half of a bench?”.
With the words however, it connects everything perfectly. “Use only what you need.” This ad is a copywriter’s dream. Short. Relevant. Cleverly executed. What more could you ask for in an ad that is meant to get people talking?
So what did we learn from this? Give your audience more credit. And your copywriters. Words do matter, and people are going to read them. A picture isn’t worth a thousand words. In an ad, it’s worth 500, at best.
Need some help finding the perfect meaningful words for your brand? We’d love to help. Give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.