Steering Away from Omnibus Web Sites

One of the strengths of American culture is the large number of associations and foundations devoted to major causes. They serve a vital function and we should be proud of them all. In our digital/mobile era it’s only natural that these organizations would want to increase the scope and extend the reach of their efforts by creating a Web presence.

Particularly in the case of organizations dedicated to health-related causes, however, the results are by-in-large dysfunctional.

That’s not to say that these sites “don’t work.” You can visit any of the following…

American Diabetes Foundation
American Heart Association
American Liver Foundation
American Lung Association
National Kidney Foundation

…and click through to dozens upon dozens of pages of information on a wide variety of topics directly and indirectly related to a particular illness or condition.

And that’s the problem.

What you’ll find is an overwhelming mass of words encased in a labyrinthine site architecture that would test the limits of the NORAD targeting system to find its way around.

The problem begins with the unbridled proliferation of links:


Each site outlined above has between 12-17 navigation points on the home page alone. What’s more, each link leads to a page linking to an average of 4-5 subpages.

Now, I have no doubt that the impetus behind such comprehensive coverage is a desire to provide as much help, information, encouragement and advocacy as possible. The question is whether, in its current format, this encyclopedic approach works against those lofty aims. As I see it, the answer is “Yes.”

At the heart of the problem is the assumption that the aim of every site visitor is to gather as much information as possible right away. People being the variable creatures they are, however, the only thing we can assume is that each visitor has a different goal each and every time—and that no two visitors can be guaranteed to pursue the same path through the site.

Plus, whether I choose to visit www.lung.org because my aunt won’t stop smoking, because I feel a little wheezy or because I wish to make a donation, I have a limited amount of time set aside to find answers. As a result, the first question this site needs to answer is:

“Where do I begin?”

That’s me, a specific user, not an abstract audience model. And, confronted with a home page studded with 17 navigational links, arrayed in an irregular grid that gives equal weight to each, I may find the answer to that question a tad elusive. If I’m like many users, I’ll putter around until I’m exhausted, or—just as I’m running out of time—finally identify the sections of the site that matter to me.

I could try again later but, fact is, all that clutter is guaranteed to discourage repeat visits. Site design like this is analogous to gathering an audience in an auditorium and asking it to listen to 8-10 speakers discuss divergent topics all at the same time. They’re not bloody likely to retain much information.

What’s needed is a reimagined site architecture—whose first goal should be to help users identify the most efficient route to the information they need. Keep in mind that such identification is necessary precisely because of the depth of information cause-related sites rightly seek to convey.

One solution is a self-selection menu enabling users to identify key areas of interest at the outset. After all, a care provider, physician, newly diagnosed patient, or benefactor all need something different from the site. Clicking an identifying link would call up a submenu of related links that would streamline the process by eliminating the need to “stumble through.”

Another solution is the one adopted by Amazon.com. It gives users recommendations based on their initial choices. “People who selected Section X also selected the following Sections.” While these and other post-hypertext strategies require more programming expertise, if your goal is to build an omnibus site for your cause, they offer effective remedies to the dismally flat, dehumanizing clutter that dominates the cause-marketing digital landscape.

Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from recognizing the limits of human endurance. In that sense, the best alternative to “Encyclopedia.com” is diversification. Instead of one massive site, you might consider building a network of smaller sites, each limited to a single theme or pair of themes. Users interested in a `medical overview, would go to A.com. Users hoping to be care providers would go to B.com and so on. That way, each user’s experience would be more rewarding, more purposeful and more memorable.

Because no matter how you look at “user engagement,” “advocacy,” or “empowerment,” all the theory in the universe is worthless if users must struggle to get what they need from your site.


Facebook Marketing: Revolution Meh

It has been several years since the first wave of enthusiastic gushing began for Facebook’s integration of advertising into the flow of its service to members. Today, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting somebody ready to tout its virtues. I’ve been told to expect a revolution in marketing at least once a month since, let’s say 2009, and I figured it’s about time I checked in to see what I’ve been missing.

Because, strangely, nothing seems to have changed.

That is, nothing beyond what the evolution of digital space itself has created since the late 1990s. Exhibit A is a collection of sidebar ads from my own universe as of 6-28-14, which at a single glance belies the hype and reinforces my concerns about current trends in marketing theory. Or rather, current trends in the ideology of marketing theory.

facebook ads

For I’m meant to believe that the mere presence of a tiny data-driven space ad in a consumer’s personal electronic village will make him or her more eager. That must be what brands are counting on because, on the face of it, these ads are as ordinary as any I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I’ve eaten vanilla ice cream with way more energy, character—not to say taste.

But in theoretical terms, what’s absent is meaningful targeting. For example, to the extent that I already have Verizon service, a Verizon ad that doesn’t offer me new value—say, a free upgrade—isn’t truly targeted, because it does nothing for me in real time. The same goes for the appeal from Amazon.com, coming on the heels of the countless e-mails I’ve received after buying a couple of e-books 3 months ago.

Irrelevant relevance.
Besides, what is there about my visit to Facebook that implies I’m thinking about Kindles? I visited my personal electronic village to see if anyone there had a life changing experience or a goofy photo or a goofy photo of a life changing experience.

In that context, the only way to convince me to click through would be to offer something exclusive—exclusive to me, an offer I alone can take advantage of. After all, you’ve walked into my personal electronic village uninvited, crashed the wedding, eaten all the shrimp at the wake, nudged your way next to my best friend’s baby pictures and all you have to offer is “ACT NOW”?

Worse, I’m amazed to see that, despite the huge cottage industry in internet-guru-mentoring services, these are ads that would rest comfortably between the covers of any standard-issue consumer magazine.

“Have a lovely NYC home?”

…reads the headline for a home-swapping service. The creaky, two- to three-step process this lead-in asks of me to grasp its message follows a tired formula dating back at least 60 years. Sure, on November 5th, 1955, question headlines were the bleeding edge of a new wave of  “conversational” copy.

In our time, leading with a question in Facebook is as uninteresting as it would be anywhere else. “Have a lovely NYC home?” Well, mine’s a wreck at the moment, but if your message is that someone might be interested in swapping homes anyway, just to simplify their NYC vacation, that’s another issue. I could probably tidy up the place to show off its “character.” But you’ll never get me there with that question.

Vision unenvisioned.
Hand in glove with the inadequacy of the ads goes the amorphous, inarticulate Facebook design environment, with its white background, tiny thumbnails, and unweighted snippets of text arrayed so there’s no visual cue to distinguish a list from a comment from an ad from a bit of directional copy.

I mean, focus, anyone? I doubt I would have noticed the sidebar ads if I hadn’t been seeking them out and it’s here that the revolution seems especially stalled. For this, brands have only to blame themselves. By mimicking the look and feel of true Facebook entries—in a phony bid for “authenticity”— these ads fail to even call attention to themselves. And that, after all, is their first job: to get noticed.

So, as always, in evaluating “what works,” the true test is not the rationale that brought you to your methodology, but the real-time impact of the conduit you’ve chosen for your branded message. A sad, creaky remnant of campaigns from long ago, no matter where its placed, can’t be transmogrified into a revolutionary recasting of consumer engagement, just by jamming it right up next your customer’s latest cute cat/puppy/baby/car/home/vacation/wedding update. That’s why, as I see it, the only thing Facebook marketing revolves around is the status quo.


Marketing Anxiety & “The Half That’s Wasted”

An occupational hazard of the agency business is its cussed subjectivity. No matter how many theories you expound over how many years, regardless of qualitative or quantitative research and in spite of your best (and worst) efforts to codify success in tidy packets of best practice, the quest for “what works” remains stubbornly elusive.

It’s a state of affairs that leads many a brand to the brink of despair and, from time to time, even major brands succumb to a “try anything” mindset that has engendered some remarkably silly marketing solutions. That the persistence of the phenomenon is entirely in keeping with the lazy, thoughtless way American culture has systematically replaced coherent analysis with soundbyte and meme juggling  should surprise no one. Today, this is  simply the way of the world.

Case in point is the arrival of Yahoo Motion Ads, a gimmicky, one-note graphic treatment Yahoo would like to promote as a major innovation in audience engagement. Here’s how Yahoo triumphantly announced its newest offering on March 17 of this year:

“Today, we are excited to introduce Yahoo Motion Ads, a new ad format that brings images to life, helping brands tell more engaging stories and drive greater awareness with their target audiences.”

Featured on the announcement is a partially animated GIF of a rather membranal-looking slab of a grilled cheese sandwich—out of which steam appears to rise. Leaving aside the sample ad’s poor production values (I’d certainly never eat anything that looked like that), only the full force of a complex delusional system could convince a rational person, or even a hungry person, that such an ad is “engaging.”

In the first place, the partial animation GIF is not an innovative graphic device in 2014. An unscientific survey seems to place its origin as far back as 2009, with many subsequent examples turning up on arty and not-so-arty sites ever since. Random examples include:

• Hongkiat.com

…and there are thousands more.

But this is not to imply that innovation or its lack is in any sense a hallmark of success of failure in consumer engagement. What’s really startling here is the leap a major brand like Kraft is willing to make between a rather humdrum technical gimmick and its signature brand message-of-the-moment. Here’s what the venerable cheese-maker’s brand manager has to say about its partnership with Yahoo:

“Kraft Cheese is proud to partner with Yahoo on the brand new Kraft Singles Motion Ad. We are always looking for opportunities to engage our consumers in unique and innovative ways that deliver our news—Kraft Singles are now made with no artificial preservatives. Yahoo brought forward a great executional idea and we are excited to be the first brand to launch it.”

I promised myself I wouldn’t say “WTF” so I won’t. But I have to confess that, the current session of Congress excepted, I’ve never seen a more thorough-going case of ideological delusion than the assertion that fake steam rising off a fake sandwich can convey Kraft’s commitment to authenticity—as exemplified by its preservative-free products.

Astonishingly, after decades of hawking its wares, Kraft still has so little faith in its own brand value that it chooses to bury a powerful message strategy—involving any number of ways to demonstrate the benefits of preservative-free foods or to become the thought leader in the ongoing debate about the impact of Big Food on American health—under ridiculous claims of marketing innovation.

If there was ever any answer to the conundrum “Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”—this is it. The other half is the money you spent in desperation—when a rage for certainty in an uncertain universe clouded your judgement and made you forget everything you should have learned about motivating consumers to act.


Flat Design & The Way Forward

Over time, in an attempt to keep up with shifting Web design trends, advances in programming have often been adopted under the aegis of a more-is-better philosophy. That is, without regard to the most important issue: How these changes in design parameters affect the site’s ability to communicate effectively with consumers.

As a result, we have seen the proliferation of visual clutter compounded by a desperate, aimless engagement strategy, based on the premise that “something” on the home page ought to grab the attention of any given user.

By contrast, I see in the recent trend toward so-called “flat design” protocols, the potential to make Web design less mechanical and, by corollary, more effective. Furthermore, flat design delivers an effective way to communicate across the multiple access points—just as an increasing number of users take for granted as they glide unselfconsciously between desk- and laptop, tablet, and the device we still quaintly refer to as a “phone.”

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of flat design, the overview available at Awwwards and Webdesigner Depot will give you all the orientation you need for the moment.

Examples of flat design on view at Design Razzi offer an unscientific sample that nevertheless illustrate its potential to improve digital communication across the board. To be clear, underlying this purely visual point of departure is an equally important shift in communication strategy. That is, toward an effortless rolling out of content that allows the brand’s deep message to speak for itself at a measured pace.

A few examples are enough to illustrate the positive principles at work here.

 Uncluttered, elegant, Munchery.com succeeds due to careful attention to proportion, spacing and line lengths. Additionally, it translates effortlessly to mobile display, enabling the on-the-fly decision making that, as I see it, has emerged as the centerpiece of 21st century popular culture.

 Just as important, the design calls attention to the offerings, not to itself. You get the feeling you’ve arrived at the right place for intriguing dining without any intermediary artifice required to “welcome” you there.

Considering this is also an e-tail site, I see it as a definitive step in the right direction. Here, online shopping continues the brand narrative, driving the deep message all the way home—again without needing an extra layer of promotional metacommunication.

Overriding these accomplishments, see how flat design, by doing away with conventional grid structures, allows language to flow according to its own principles, instead of being treated as merely another design element—and a pesky one at that—whose irregular contours threaten to make a hash of the most carefully planned pixel-width metrics.

The elegant branded experience created by bicycle manufacturer Archie Wilkenson stands out for way it focuses its attention on the product—as opposed to promotional clutter. With text an image set out in a spacious array, features and benefits speak for themselves.

Naturally, in such a niche market context, you might assume simplicity is easier to achieve, because the impetus to include “no money down” sales talk is largely absent. In fact, however, there’s no reason to assume that limited promotional incentives could not be easily integrated into this site. It would simply be done without star bursts, flickering arrows, or jiggly banners.

Finally, a site like Zirtual.com shows how flat design integrates video (scroll down) into a coherent visual flow. Video is available as an option you can access at your own pace—absent coercive promotional lingo, or moronically redundant instructional copy.

Here again, the site makes an easy transition to mobile, even on a 5” screen. especially important in this context, as the services offered target people too busy to deal with everyday life in real time.

And in clear refutation of the claim “people don’t read online,” this site’s response is unmistakable: “they will if the text is actually allowed to flow naturally as language, rather than confined to design-regulated copy blocks.”

Sure, you can adapt the length, style, the tone, the vocabulary the pacing, the rhythm of the text to match any audience model. But if you want consumers to read your content, you must display it in a legible format. As I see it, this aspect of flat design in the broadest sense offers a way forward to a far more effective and memorable Web experience.

From the most practical book-your-hotel functionality to the most elegant niche marketing scenarios, the improvement these protocols make in clarity and speed of communication have arrived just in time to meet the current rapid shift toward mobile computing. More to the point, they succeed by creating the first truly digital visual vocabulary in a way that humanizes digital communication for the first time.


Morphing Brands with the Magic of Action

Today, it’s just understood that Web site viability is directly related to how well you regulate the flow of traffic to your content. Now, let’s assume you’ve already implemented a formidable array of strategies and tactics to achieve that goal. The success of your efforts still boils down to the same issues it did when the Web first began to spin in earnest:

Can you deliver content your audience cares about?

That’s why one of the most perplexing phenomenon in digital space is the persistence of static, descriptive sites devoted to everyday commodities like snack foods and drinks.

Case in point is Keebler.com. Keebler, the venerable American brand, apparently believes its products are best sold by description only. Branded messaging? Consumer engagement? Talk to the elves.

That’s right, here before us is a multipage Web site relying only on standard-issue marketing copy and a pale remnant of a general advertising campaign from the late 1960s. Worse, all it has to offer are lists— of products, ingredients and generic product attributes like “freshness.”

Ironically, what the Keebler site doesn’t offer is a motivating list of brand values. Considering how much consumers have heard about the negative impact of snack foods, this lack of counterbalance is a glaring omission. Besides, the fix is simple: We all know cookies do deliver demonstrable benefits in moderation, like encouraging convivial conversation—or making a 3-year-old smile.

Just as important, there’s nothing here to distinguish Keebler, on the face of it, from any other cookie cutter—unless you believe in the power of elves.

Lo-res legacy branding.
Trouble is, in 2014, elf iconography has evolved past the old cherubic stereotype, after passing through a series of post-modern interpretive filters. The elves depicted in the Harry Potter series are benevolent, but downtrodden, even pathetic. By contrast, elves in Lord of the Rings—as seen by millions in Peter Jackson’s film versionare dignified, powerful aesthetes with a high moral purpose. Neither embody Keebler’s folksy wholesomeness.

So what used to pass as more nuanced brand avatars than their predecessors Charlie the Tuna and Tony the Tiger, now contribute no recognizable attributes to the brand. Today, “Keebler” reads only as “cookies.”

On the other hand, maybe this is all the marketing Keebler actually needs, as the second largest US cookie manufacturer with a 24% market share. And that begs the question of why, if you’re a top cookie maker, you’d bother to have a Web presence at all.

Unless, of course, you have the slightest desire to be Number 1. In that case, your site must motivate consumers at a time when Web validation is rapidly becoming the only kind that counts. In practical terms, that means giving users something to do when they arrive at your home page, exactly the tack taken by Yoplait. Remember, involvement in brand means participation—and participation means taking action.

Built for action.
For starters, Yoplait evokes familiar sharing spaces like Pinterest or Tumblr, with a user interface also evocative of the tap-and-swipe environment of the mobile web. Here’s a mobile-friendly home page, whose low-bandwidth flattened buttons fit reasonably well, unchanged, into the context of a 5″ screen.

It just makes sense. Given the lightning-fast adoption of the smart phone by millions of Americans, you might hazard the assumption that one key factor—the phone’s ability to facilitate favorite or addictive behaviors—continues to fuel the trend toward continuous smart phone engagement beyond the limits of safety.

In fact, Yoplait’s content map addresses that action-oriented mindset directly. Whether you’re in it for health benefits, taste or the convenience of a product that purports to provide both, Yoplait has made action and involvement its primary messaging platform.

Not to say Keebler.com is devoid of user engagement. Like Yoplait.com, the Keebler site features recipes. But a straight comparison of their approach says a mouthful:

I’ll leave it to you to decide which is more inviting, inclusive and inciting.

A brand image in sharper definition.
Ultimately, the distinctions I’ve made between two messaging strategies ladder up to conclusions about how you define your brand for your audience.

“What is Yoplait?” the yogurtenuer appears to ask. Refreshingly, the answer is not “the finest ingredients and our dedication to quality” It is, instead:

“Yoplait is the yogurt you need it to be and we’re right there with you.
Because nobody’s crazier about yogurt than we are.”

As such, this site is the very exemplar of a brand morphing its image: From a plant that makes products for sale, Yoplait has become a community of like-minded people with a shared passion. And for my money, that’s a kind of magic no elf can hope to muster.


The Message Your Message Sends

The funny thing about communication is how important it is, relative to how little we understand it. And certainly, ever since communication went digital, the Babel of communication theories has grown to a deafening roar.

Consensus? You must be joking. Yet, in relative terms, we can successfully divide what separates us in that arena into two general categories: Those who favor on-the-nose communication that “speaks for itself” and those who believe your best shot at reaching consumers, is to let your audience draw its own conclusions from the memorable cues you provide.

That’s right, it’s the explicit/implicit divide in communication theory, which two recent TV spots for similar products demonstrate in vivid detail. The first, for ADT home security systems, begins with a typical TV “man and wife,” trying to enjoy a night on the town, but beset by anxiety about whether they forgot to lock the back door.

OK, that’s a plausible premise and, predictably, resolving the protagonists’ anxiety involves nothing more than the flick of a finger on a smartphone app. But along the way, a deeper Marketing Anxiety spoils the impact. Watch the spot and you’ll see Boyfriend’s emotion reflected in an explicit montage of leering burglars zeroing in on his home.

By contrast, the spot produced for AT&T Digital Life grows seamlessly out of direct observation of the human condition. Here, wiser heads know a 20-something’s assurance of responsible behavior is as ephemeral as the will-o’-the-wisp. While the resolution is the same—again, a flick of a thumb across a touch screen—the AT&T spot gets its message across implicitly and more memorably, by integrating the product’s value into our everyday experience of American society.

Hurry! While your attention span lasts!
The same principles apply to digital marketing. In fact, the contrast between explicit and implicit messaging is nowhere more stark. Take for example, the differing approaches taken by two furniture retailers, Raymour & Flanigan, on one hand, and ABC Carpet on the other.

Now, I can already hear someone in the back of the room complaining that I’ve stacked the deck—by comparing a  mainstream site to a niche site. I don’t buy that, not least because it suggests that “mainstream” audiences need to be hit over the head with price in order to be motivated.

Sure, as evidenced by the 2:00-am-TV tactics that continue to sell knifes, polishing cloths and hair removal systems, price can be a powerful motivator. Especially, that is, when linked to an impending sense of loss (“Hurry, while supplies last!”). The question is, whether that’s any way to build a lasting, loyal customer base.

As I see it, the answer is no. Establish a relationship with consumers based on “deals” and your brand is only as good as your latest Limited Time Offer. Worse, you’re effectively training consumers to jump from brand to brand as necessary to get the best discount. It’s the very behavior that has bedeviled credit card companies since the Dawn of Plastic.

 “Transfer your balance now and get 0% APR for the first X months.”

…goes the refrain of desperate competitors who never stop to think that the most enduring customer relationships begin and end with fair, transparent dealings. I mean, if all you have to offer is an APR shell game leading to 19% finance charges in less than a year, I fail to see the enduring value you deliver.

Connection vs contempt.
So, along with this particularly explicit approach goes an entire mindset about your relationship with your consumers. It extends far beyond the competence of your messaging strategy—then snaps back to sap its effectiveness. For at a global messaging level, if you go that route, you’ve seriously eroded your brand. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a credit card company, furniture wholesaler or a cellphone service, your only message to me will be:

“I want your money right now….What do you mean what do I sell? Give me a minute…Phones, that’s it, phones. Can I have your credit card number?”

That’s very explicit, to be sure, but so is this: The first American cellphone service to offer a coherent, comprehensible and consistent fee-for-service structure that delivers real value—as opposed to deceptive promotions—will have the largest and most loyal customer base the industry has ever seen.

That’s because, even in “the mainstream,” what consumers want more than anything from American business is respect for their status as fellow human beings. No one denies a business the need to earn an honest living. But know this: That same implicit honesty is the one and only voice capable of motivating your audience to come back for more.


Spin it to Win it

Whether your product is as serious as an appeal for humanitarian aid, or as frivolous as a Superman-themed iPod cover, if you’re going to sell it, you need an angle. In the abstract, that’s five cents’ worth of wisdom you might think was the essence of advertising.

And yet in today’s world, where the distinction between an honest sales person and a sneaky “spin doctor” has been blurred by everything from real political scandals to cable-TV dramas, that cheap wisdom is often obscured. In recent years, the battle cries of the authenticity movement have discouraged even sensible people from acknowledging the basic truth behind any sale:

You have to spin it to win it.

Hence, even if you craft your appeal to audiences under the aegis of strict, authenticity-driven ideology, you’re still crafting an appeal. You’ve simply added a step to the process. First, you win someone over with your earnestness, and then you hit them with your sales pitch. And, as any fund raising hack knows, that approach appeals directly to a certain sector of your customer base.

“Won’t you please help ensure that [cause target] has the [cause-specific panacea] [gender-appropriate pronoun] needs to achieve [cause-specific happy ending]?”

…runs the tired formula of many a fund raising campaign. While many foundations do great work, if you’re going to give, it’s not because you’ve carefully weighed the data the campaign presented.

You’ll give because you’ve been sold—or rather, been given the tools to sell yourself.

Case in point is a clever video that puts the last 10 years of Technology advertising in stark perspective. Go ahead, watch it now. I’ll wait.

Goose bumps, right? For my part, I could barely stop myself from making my own printing press so I could cranck out these technological marvels.

Here’s an everyday object repositioned as a magnificent innovation. The mundane becomes the grand, and the future arrives by special delivery to your benighted hovel of a life.

Peek inside the envelope.
The first step in the process is to create a conceptual framework for your pitch, one level removed from words on a page. As in the “Book” video mentioned above, you need to envelop your product in a coherent and emotionally compelling story about its value.

In rudimentary form, you can see this at work in catalog copy, as in narrative snippets like this from Hemmacher Schlemmer:

Worn like a backpack, this is the lightweight vacuum that turns a
physically demanding chore into an activity that’s as effortless as walking.

…or this from Sharper Image:

The Emergency Handcrank Power Radio keeps you connected to the world
while you’re camping—or whenever severe weather strikes.

Similar examples are legion, but to achieve a storied Spin you must get beyond messages that cling tight to product features. You must demonstrate your value in a broader context and make the sum total of your products’ attributes into an object of desire.

This is Apple’s greatest achievement—to the dismay of anyone rooting for the further evolution of the human species. People are willing to pay more for a parity product because it feels sexier than the alternative.

Read the letter of the lager.
But lest you think only brands with deep pockets can take this tack, witness the positioning power of Brooklyn Lager, the product of an artisanal brewery:

The result is a wonderfully flavorful beer, smooth, refreshing and very versatile
with food. Dry-hopping is largely a British technique, which we’ve used in a
Viennese-style beer to create an American original.

…not your drunk uncle’s beer, to be sure. Let’s see how the brewery puts its product in context:

Brooklyn Lager is at home with pizza, burgers, Mexican food, roast chicken,
barbecue, fried fish, pork and Chinese dishes. For cheese, go with manchego,
Stilton, farmhouse cheddar and mild Gruyere.

Now, many a marketing guru would balk at using “so much copy” to sell a product online. Yet I defy anyone who doesn’t actively dislike beer not to undergo a  change in perception. That’s because the copy creates a singular narrative identifying the product’s specific value: as a beer for people for whom food and drink is an essential part of their culture.

 Try doing that with a semi-literate list of bullets or a stingy discount coupon. Without an honest, compelling spin, you’d do better to sell your wares on a street corner with a megaphone. At least then, after serving 90 days for disturbing the peace, you might have the start of a ripping yarn to wow your customers.

Mark Laporta

Writer, Creative Consultant
New York, NY




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