Making the Pitch in Print Advertisement
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In opposition to the perceptions of many people, a copywriter has to be in command with the language and has to be able to think outside of the box. In Making the Pitch in Print Advertising, authors Courtland L. Bovée, John V. Thill, George P. Dovel, and Marian Burk Wood explain the importance of copy and how copywriters play a large role in the advertising process. Bovée is the C. Allen Paul Distinguished Chair at Grossmont College and wrote this article, with help, to clarify the a copywriters’ job and their importance in attracting possible buyer’s attention and promoting what merits the product has to offer.
Copywriters, working either for agencies or as free-lancers, maintain a steady, challenging job year after year because advertisement will always be crucial. Copywriters share their love of words with writers but look at their job as a business task. Unlike writers, copywriters have to meet advertising functions and deadlines, plan and communicate with clients, and deal with tight format restrictions. Many noted novelists and poets found themselves fail in the copywriting business as they were unable to do it effectively. On top of creating the headlines, Bovée adds that copywriters develop all types of advertisement; they are accountable for every word readers see. They create anything from posters to press releases to television and radio commercials. There are three major types of copy: headlines, body copy, and slogans.
The headlines, usually in larger text or bold type and appear at the top, are the main line or lines in an ad. Bovée explains that the headlines are the most important part for two reasons: it plays as the come-on for readers to stop and read the ad. Bovée et al. also emphasized a noted 80 percent of readers only read the headline, so the message that the headline encloses must be important (364). Copywriters choose from an assortment of headline types to perform the particular function needed. Bovée et al. list the options of headlines which include news headlines, emotional headlines, benefit headlines, directive headlines, offbeat and curiosity headlines, hornblowing headlines, and slogan, label, or logo headlines (364-365). After creating an enticing headline, copywriters often couple it with a carefully selected graphic element. The powerful combinations usually complement each other, leaving readers with a strong message.
Subheads are known as secondary headlines, as they direct the reader from the headline to the part of the ad which explains the product or service, known as the body copy. The significance of the body copy varies ad to ad, depending on how easy the product is to understand. Copywriters have to get the point across in the right number of words; too many bore readers but too little causes readers to not understand. As with headlines, body copy has many different formats it can be written in, each serving a different purpose. The slogan is a catchy word or phrase that readers can remember that builds awareness to a company.
Copywriters face numerous obstacles when creating ads. Producing excellent copy requires many techniques that copywriters perfect over time. Some of these include an avoidance of clichés, borrowed interest, and they have to be careful not to boast. In a small amount of space, they have to make the ad personal, simple, and relevant so readers can relate to it. A prospective buyer needs a reason to read, listen, or watch your advertisement. Advertisements are seen everywhere and copywriters are responsible for all of them. Bovée’s article enlightens readers of the difficult yet rewarding life of a copywriter.
Bovée, Courtland L., John V. Thill, George P. Dovel, and Marian Burk Wood. “Making the Pitch in Print Advertisement.” Writing and Reading for ACP Composition. Ed. Thomas E. Leahey and Kristine R. Farris. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2009. 363-67.