23 Oct

Nice idea, but…

It’s a thankless task, being a copywriter.

Take the headline on this ad, for example:

BarclaysAds copy

For the product it’s offering (mortgages for first time buyers), it’s bang on the money: it’s ‘of now’.
Not a day goes by where there isn’t a headline, in at least one of the newspapers, about ‘generation rent’ and/or buyers being unable to afford their first home unless their parents can help them.

This ad – the headline in particular – gives the impression that Barclays understand the scenario that most young buyers find themselves in, but …  the body copy reveals that you ‘only’ need a 5% deposit, which renders the empathetic headline useless.
In London, you’d be hard pushed to find a flat under £200,000: 5% of this is £10,000. Many houses are now heading towards the £400,000 mark, so they’d require a £20,000 deposit.
This is the very problem that the headline was seeking to address: how many young couples, or individuals, already renting, have a spare £10,000 – £20,000 sitting around? Not many – hence going to the ‘bank of Mum and Dad’.
Oh, and the rest of the ‘deal’ being offered by Barclays is that, on top of the 5% deposit, they need another 10% … from Mum and Dad. So, they do still need you to go to your parents for money, and they’re actually asking for a 15% deposit.

The words in the headline have done their job. The offer doesn’t back those words up in the slightest: the offer means that those words are empty.

This is something I was talking about with a friend, yesterday: marketing is there to bring people to the door (in a metaphorical sense) of a particular business … but it’s up to the business to finish the job off.

A campaign can be as creative, clever, or strategic as you like. It can carry fantastic headlines that really get the audience thinking, and turn them towards a product or service.
However, if – having been led to that door – they find that what the business has to offer falls short of that which was promised, or if that business fails to follow up leads, then that audience will look elsewhere.

Good marketing can bring people to you, but it can’t make up for it if the product/service on offer ain’t so great.

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