An honest look at honest copywriting
As with all elements of marketing, copywriting has its rules. These are based on human behaviour observed from
data and, for the most part, they work.
But sometimes rules need to be broken. People change and a bit of disruption is needed. Especially
when people are looking for transparency and honesty, as they are in 2019.
That’s what Coca Cola-owned drinks brand Oasis seemed to have picked up on with their 2015-2019
Ads like this one:
And this one:
Not a word about the benefits of the product. Nothing about the problem it solves for the customer.
Just taking the mick out of the marketing profession. Every copywriting rule cheekily destroyed.
But has it worked? Have people made the decision to go out and buy it?
And should you, as an entrepreneur, take a leaf out of Oasis’s book? Is tongue-in-cheek humour and
transparency the way to go for you?
The case for honesty
If you want an answer, ask the good people at marketing research firm ATTEST. They’ve done their
own homework on brands that have tried to capitalize on this trend.
Let’s look at some of their findings:
Here’s how Oasis fared:
Of all the people they questioned, 16.4 % were ‘very likely’ buy the Oasis drink and 30 % were
‘slightly more likely’ to purchase Oasis having seen their ad. A whopping 41% thought it was
So, if these findings are anything to go by, it seems that going against the tide works, right?
Not so fast!
The flip side
Let’s look at another company tested: BrewDog.
This, according to the beer company, is “the most honest advert you’ll ever see”. Again, going
against the grain. And clearly in a big way.
But did it gain much public favour?
Clearly not. 41% found it downright annoying, and 49% weren’t swayed by the advert. 34% weren’t
inspired to tell their friends about it.
Two brands. One got it just right, another horribly wrong.
As one marketer I spoke to observed, BrewDog were clearly trying too hard. Throwing ‘honesty’ in
your face from a bus or billboard just doesn’t do it for most people. Oasis struck a good
balance between humour and patronization.
So yes, using humour in your copy can be highly effective. And it’s certainly needed in the marketing world. But
going against the grain is highly risky, especially if you’re just starting out. At that stage, playing the
‘let’s be different’ game can backfire if not played carefully. It needs to stay ‘out of the box’ without
being seen as inauthentic and annoying.
Even if you pull it off successfully, you need to be mindful of its shelf life. Stick around for too long
and you risk overstaying your welcome.
So it’s a risky game. But if you’re an entrepreneur, why should a bit of risk stop you? Wth a bit of
help from the right people, you can use humour effectively- very effectively- to get you off to a good
And whilst we don’t claim to guarantee instant results (this is a post about honesty!), AbWord Copywriting is
probably experienced enough to give you that help (humble brag there!).
There’s certainly no harm in having a conversation. So why not get in touch today to see how we can