When Copywriters Don’t Think

With all the increased emphasis on copywriting education today, it’s amazing how much bad copy gets written.

Case in point: the headline on a recent ad selling a book on big band music, which said:

“Swing has never gone out of style!”

It fails because it is so clearly in opposition to the truth, which is that swing HAS gone out of style.

The big bands survive as a shadow of their former selves. Many famous band leaders now perform with smaller groups, since the modest ticket sales don’t cover the costs of a full orchestra. One big band trumpet star was even reduced to giving private lessons to supplement his performing income!

The headline is also off base because it assumes that we big band aficianados CARE that our music is out of style.

We don’t. We love listening to swing, and pride ourselves on the superiority of our eclectic taste in music.

Really, the copywriter was aiming at the wrong audience.

He was trying to get general book readers to buy a book on big bands by making the case — false and not believable — that swing is still hot.

What he SHOULD have done is forget those readers and concentrate on the real market for a book on the big bands: people who love big band music — don’t you agree?


15 thoughts on “When Copywriters Don’t Think

  • Sounds right but I am wondering what went on behind the scenes, when the copywriter sat with the Client who may have refused just this approach – it happens all the time …

  • Agree Sante. I’m not a brilliant writer by any stretch, but I’ve come up with a few gems that were rejected by clients in favor of something totally generic and off the mark.

  • Hi Bob,

    Sorry if I am hijacking this discussion to a different subject.

    So how do you actually handle this kind of a situation where your ideas get killed by the client?

    In my short career(I just started writing copy this January), I created a headline and a lead which I felt was appropriate and was neatly rejected by the client saying I am sounding too negative.

    Needless to say that I am frustrated,

    Edward Santosh

  • I have to agree with you…

    In true new-copywriter form I’m spending waaay too long on this…

    But, my own thought process rambles around these ideas…

    The big band era…I don’t know much about it… yet, I feel the rhythm of a bygone era…one that was more carefree, happier…energized, passionate…romantic…despite, or maybe even because of, the challenges of a recovering economy and war.

    Its the feeling of nostalgia, if not the definition….the rebirth of a nation….accompanied by the birth of a new era in American music?

    I’m a product of that era, a boomer…maybe thats why it almost feels like I was a part of it.

    The title “Swing has never gone out of style!”?…Nah.

    It IS out of style…so make me want to relive it…

    Give me a title that evokes the memories, even the fantasy, of an era wrapped in the music of swing.

  • Aw, this was a very nice post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to create a really good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and don’t seem to get nearly anything done.

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