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How to Write Advertisement Body Copy

Updated on June 11, 2014
An Ad I Wrote For Karnataka Tourism
An Ad I Wrote For Karnataka Tourism | Source

Direct Response Rules Apply to General Advertising Copy

In an advertisement, selling and persuading is done in the body copy that comes after the headline. In the case of an intriguing headline or a story headline the writer will, of course, explain it in the very first paragraph of the body copy. When a promise is made in the headline, the benefits offered must be explained in detail.

In a typical sales letter, the following questions are answered in sequence:

  1. Why are you writing to me?
  2. What is this about?
  3. Why should I buy it?
  4. What if I don’t buy it?

The last point is the "call to action" and covers issues like the name of the store where the product is available. If it is a Direct Response ad, it will ask readers to write in to a certain address, fill in a coupon and mail it, or call the appropriate number. It would usually offer something free in return – like a discount on the product, more information or some gift.

Tone of Writing in Ad Copy

The tone and style of the headline must be kept in mind while writing body copy. For example, a humourous headline can’t be followed with sombre copy. A lyrical headline can’t be followed by dry, staccato copy.

Here is an example:

Headline: “Give me a man who can cook up a storm once in a blue moon.”

Body Copy:

"So says today’s woman. Go ahead. Show her that the old adage is true – "The best cooks are men!"

Come, cook up a storm at the Terrace Grill. You’ll find grilling a steak has never been this exciting before. For instance, you can choose to marinate the steak in a stormy sauce of rosemary, thyme and Worchestershire. Then grill it on a barbecue right at your table. It’ll put the stars in her eyes. Especially if your table wins the draw of the day and you can treat her to lunch next day under the sun, beside the pool.

However, should you just want to relax and watch our chef cook for you, and savour the sight, the aroma, you are welcome.

Just remember to come to the Terrace Grill any day between November 15 to November 30. The white marble balcony beneath the moon, the garden-fresh salads and Crepe Suzette, and yes, the steak – wait for you."

The illustration is a full moon with the silhouette of trees across it.

A Direct Response Ad I Wrote For Anchor Threads
A Direct Response Ad I Wrote For Anchor Threads | Source

Another Example of Ad Copy

Then there’s this Nissan ad in a leading international fashion magazine:



Subhead: "The totally new V6 Nissan Altima. The cure for the common car."

Lead in: "The Nissan Altima."

Body Copy:

"Sedans, like drivers, can experience night blindness. So the new V6 Nissan Altima, unlike other sedans in its class, offers high intensity discharge xenon headlights to help illuminate and clarify everything in your path. And a patented, multi-link rear suspension system to help you elude everything that shouldn’t be in your path."

The visual is the car of course. After all, buying a car is a highly aesthetic experience. The idea for this ad? The common cold! The writer has drawn an analogy between the common cold and the common car.

My Direct Mail Brochure For Campari
My Direct Mail Brochure For Campari | Source

Direct Response Version of Nissan Ad

And here’s a Direct Response version in the same Common Cold campaign.

Headline: "The Altima Brochure. Read as needed to reduce burning curiosity."

Subhead: "Source:

Phone: 000-635-5039"

Lead in: "The totally new V6 Nissan Altima. The cure for the common car."

Body Copy:

"For a more thorough examination of the totally new Nissan Altima and its remarkable healing powers, consult or call us at 800-635-5039 for a full-strength, full-color brochure."

The Effectiveness of Long Copy and Short Paragraphs

Research shows that long copy ads – a 1000 words or more, are read significantly more than those with less than a 1000 words. This does not mean that the copywriter should try to lengthen his ad copy. As the legendary advertising man David Ogilvy said, body copy should be as long as needed to sell the product.

The writer should make sure that he covers all the relevant benefits, overcomes all the relevant objections.

The first paragraphs should be short and should explain in one sentence the idea in the headline or visual (depending on whether the ad is visual or headline-based).

The copy should not contain more than two paragraphs for the explanation, each 11 or 12 words long. No paragraph in the body copy should contain more than one thought.

When writing body copy, copywriters should consider the tone and style of the headline. They must overcome all the benefits of the product and all objections that the reader may have regarding it. If this requires long copy, it is good because long copy sells better than short.

Conversation With David Ogilvy About Advertising

A Must-Read: Ogilvy On Advertising


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