Three seriously effective words

JL ad


John Lewis’s latest print ad to catch our commuting eyes is, in my humble opinion, an example of great copywriting.

Maybe not the kind of copywriting that wins Cannes Lions awards—although who’s to say it won’t—but the deceptively simple kind of copywriting that builds brand loyalty.

The more important kind. The kind that employs psychology and proven copywriting formulas to sell products.

The ad cleverly reveals the motivation and meaning behind their brand promise, ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’, with the charm, warmth and humanity we’ve come to expect from John Lewis advertising. Their powerful and emotive Christmas ads are a perfect example.

JL ad 2

First. The headline.

‘Three Funny Sounding Words’ is short and punchy and hits us straight away with its simple humility. It shows us they don’t take themselves too seriously.

The language is simple and evokes a voice.

The opening line, ‘They may seem old fashioned’ continues the humble tone, while the second line highlights their commitment to their brand promise. You can trust us because ‘our promise hasn’t changed since 1925.’

Every word has a purpose here. No adverbs. All in the active voice.

It goes straight into the benefits: quality products, fair prices, expert service. Not a whiff of jargon or pretence.

The third paragraph hit us with the meaning behind their brand promise—how we know they are ‘never knowingly undersold’.

The focus is smack bang on the reader. ’You never pay more than you should’ and ‘our price promise to you’ puts us into a buying mind-set. The psychology of using ‘you’ with ‘pay, price and sales’ is subtle but effective.

It is the style of copywriting David Ogilvy might have doffed his cap to.

The timing of this ad is also brilliant. From now until Christmas we’ll have the meaning behind those ‘three funny sounding words’ etched on our psyches.

Then the Christmas ad will come out in November, and everything John Lewis sells will suddently seem like excellent value for money. Right? Okay, maybe not, but we will have their price promise front of mind. And that’s seriously effective advertising.


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