#CompellingCopy: Saying things imaginatively, originally, freshly.

25 Nov 2020 | Tips & Tricks

#CompellingCopy: Saying things imaginatively, originally, freshly.

By Dominic Oliver

The first in a monthly series in which we take a close look at compelling copy and the secrets to sounding fresh.

Copy can often be seen as an afterthought. I get it: your focus is on the eye-popping colours, the killer soundtrack, the slick videography or any other number of components of your campaign – while us copywriters melt into the background with our noise-cancelling headphones, tapping away until you ‘need a line.’ (Or the classic: “this just needs wordsmithing.”)

But humans are, in essence, a species of storytellers. Words have power. Words make us feel things. And in world of noisy notifications and endless hyperlink highways, words can still seize our attention like little else.

Put simply: good copy makes money; crap copy means your audience is already looking elsewhere. As the legendary Creative Director, Bill Bernbach memorably put it:

“The truth isn’t the truth until people believe you, and they can’t believe you if they don’t know what you’re saying, and they can’t know what you’re saying if they don’t listen to you, and they won’t listen to you if you’re not interesting, and you won’t be interesting unless you say things imaginatively, originally, freshly.”

So, what makes for compelling copy? Here are a few things that caught my eye this month.


I know ‘yawn.’ But it’s been a big year for Apple, and looking at their updated homepage – hot on the launch of their new M1 computer chips – it’s clear that their copy game is stronger than ever.

I’ve admired Apple’s writing for a while. They’re responsible for one of the most devastatingly effective, benefit-driven copy lines of all time, “1,000 songs in your pocket,” which to me, in 2003, seemed a minor miracle. And they still elegantly, effortlessly walk the tightrope between communicating complex technical details and maintaining their clean tone of voice (along with plenty of smart straplines).

Power. It’s in the air.” introduces their new MacBook Air laptops. So simple. Even more effective. Like all the best copy, really.

Harry’s Marketing Examples

Talking of benefit-driven copywriting, here’s how it’s done. Harry’s Marketing Examples do some great case-studies to help their audience create more engaging content. In this example, they reached out to businesses on social media, asking them to submit their home landing page for improvement. Then, they hired a professional copywriter to rework the copy.

Sure, “Peace of mind in a cup,” sounds snappy; but how much more appealing is “Your most restful sleep is just a sip away?”

This case-study demonstrates how important it is to keep your audience’s emotions and motives in mind when writing. It’s how you deliver clear value propositions, ensuring the customer knows exactly what they’re getting. And it’s the secret to creating copy that converts.


Remember when ol’ Bill said, “The truth isn’t the truth until people believe you”? He was underlining one of the most important – and powerful – principles in copywriting: honesty. Ultimately, people expect ads to bull**** them. They expect copy to be full of slick lines, selling a dream that doesn’t deliver. And so, a blunt, honest headline can startle your audience and get a firm grip on their attention.

This copy from Oatly is the perfect example. “This tastes like sh***,” their drink advert begins. Got your attention? Thought so.

Oh, and finally

This, from Smile At The World Orthodontics. Need I say more?

Want to create some engaging copy of your own? Need help turning views into conversions? Get in touch and let’s craft some compelling copy together.