Jordan Ogren

November 18, 2021

Great writing is life or death ☠️ <> TTAB05

Today's ad is not a "throwback." It's from 2017.

But it's written by legendary copywriter Nigel Roberts. And I believe it's worth our time to dissect its brilliance. 

It's also nice to add another great writer (who is still alive) to your swipe file.

Let's dive (no pun intended) into this week's Ad Buildup:

Finding #1: A crispy headline (One-Two Punch Combo)

You likely agree with the first sentence; I do. But then the second sentence undermines that belief. This emphasizes how floating = surviving.

That's the power of the One-Two Punch Combo, especially for headlines. It allows you to get buy-in with your first sentence, uproot that buy-in and get buy-in on the second sentence.

Finding #105.jpg

Finding #2: Good choppy copy

Tight writing is good. Creating choppiness is not bad when writing an ad. Actually, it's proven to work as you need to get attention fast with an ad and choppy writing does that.

The beginning two sentences are three words each. The third sentence is sixteen words. This is where Nigel alters the flow to create rhythm. Had he kept the third sentence choppy, it would have ruined the flow as it would be jarring to read.

Finding #205.jpg

Finding #3: Perfect hierarchy of copy and creative

What is the first thing you see in this ad? The woman? That's what I notice. Next, my eyes navigate to the headline, then the Lifeboats logo, and finally the sub-header. 

The order of what we see is:
  1. Woman floating
  2. Bold headline
  3. Logo of campaign company
  4. Regular sub-header

I see the woman floating first (or at least her red dress); I then tie the headline to that image. Next, I see the Lifeboats logo, which makes sense, and then the sub-header containing the meta-message (i.e., fight instincts when drowning and float).

I love the strategy of hiding the longer meta-message at the end. You need to see, read, and feel the dark creative before getting the longer take-home message.

Finding #305.jpg


I hope you're learning as much from these buildups as I am.

It's incredible that concepts we cover in other emails are reintroduced in these ads (e.g., One-Two Punch for headlines). It reinforces the learning and hopefully improves your menta models to think better.

It's not about knowing what to think; It's about knowing how to think. I hope my emails enable you to think better.

🧠 + ❤️ // JO