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Got Originality?

Or are your ads/commercials losing potential customers, “one cliche at a time?”

If all your agency or someone at your company can come up with for your advertising is a ripoff of an acclaimed ad campaign, like “Got Milk?” somebody is getting paid too much money for too little thought, and usually, too little results.

Knowing that imitation is the sincerest form of plagiarism, you should eschew it; if you have a hardware store, I (in my role here as the consumer) do not need to see “Got Hammers?” on your employees’ aprons. Hey, I’m already in your store. I know you sell hammers. Tell me something I don’t know, more important, tell me something that would convince me to buy something at your store. How about the aprons saying, “Save energy—yours—with a titanium hammer,” and then have a point of purchase display inform potential buyers that swinging a titanium hammer transfers 97% of your energy from swinging the hammer to the nail head, while a steel hammer transfers only 70% of your energy to the nail. Titanium drives a nail more efficiently and there’s less recoil energy to travel back into your arm.

Finally, think what your attention getting headline is really saying, and whether or not it’s believable (it probably won’t be memorable if every copycat advertiser is already using that phrase or a variation thereof).

Take “One (name it) at a time.” The first use of it made the point of individualized attention, but not every ripoff of that line holds up under scrutiny. One public school system used (briefly) the line, something like “Preparing for the future, one student at a time,” and it just came across as not credible—not with what we hear about overworked teachers, disruptive students, and less than ideal student to teacher ratios. A private school might have been able to use it with more believability. A realtor used something like “Selling real estate, one house at a time.” Really? You must be a part timer or not too successful if you’re currently working on only one sale.

There are plenty of things about your company, product, and/or service that a branding campaign could wrap itself around. Just don’t go for the trite and hackneyed. That just means you’ve given up…before the bell even rings.

One Response to “Got Originality?”

  • This is an excellent reminder. Even the best professional writers can lose enthusiasm from time to time, settling for a banality bunt rather than aiming for the fence. Working Writers of Wisconsin has always given me the reminders and other support I need, as an independent writer, to keep my quality of work high and my approach to each project fresh. Thanks, Joel!

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