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Every good ad I see, I’ve usually spotted while on the Underground. It’s only appropriate that I cover something related directly to London, and the new poster promoting London Pride ale is ideal for the job.
Long copy is more or less the norm for advertising on public transport because ads have a (quite literally) captive audience in front of them.
Just in case our image from the platform’s a bit too far back, this particular ad reads:
The last two centuries have given us some great books. Many based in London. About Londoners. Like the pipe-smoking sleuth from Baker Street, the nanny that preferred her umbrella to the Routemaster, and the boy that never grew up. OK, so he wasn’t from London, but he did visit – probably flew over our brewery – and while those authors were busy writing their stories, we were writing ours. Brewing books, dating back to 1845. They’re not famous, but like any good classic, they’re still being read today, by our brewers, who in turn continue our story with new recipes and tales of cask and keg. Not exactly populist, but to enjoy our story you don’t have to read it, just take a sip.
The whole thing sounds vaguely apologetic, with ‘but’ featuring three times in 123 words of copy as well as ‘wasn’t’, ‘not’ and ‘don’t’. It might be a nod to the fact that some of this copy feels a little off: I would’ve used ‘the nanny who preferred her umbrella’ there, and ‘pipe smoking’ should probably be hyphenated. Maybe I’m being picky – let me know if you agree.
It could well be that the unusual wording ties into the overall colloquial and friendly style of the copy and links back to the more familiar nature of a good book. The mix of very short and very long sentences is similar in cadence and scansion to a novel, and to a certain extent speech. There’s an air of spoken word to it, but the medium is of course designed to be read rather than read out loud.
The content of the copy closely follows the familiar story-telling method of bringing the conclusion back round to the same topic that opened the text. We start and (almost) end with books. The description of famous literary characters without actually naming them is a clever way of showing how the written word can have a lasting impact.
And, just as with every gripping tale, there’s a twist at the end. The ad isn’t ultimately encouraging us to read– it wants us to go and order a nice pint of London Pride, and ‘taste’ the history instead. Given the recent lovely weather and the packed pubs, I’m sure a lot of people have been tempted to raise a glass.
We can’t end our take on this ad without covering the strapline: ‘Made Of London’. It’s easy to do a double-take here. Yes, that says ‘of’ rather than ‘in’, as you’d expect to see on a clothing label or the bottom of a porcelain jug. It’s a clever substitution that intrinsically links London Pride to the city in much more than name. ‘Brewed beside the Thames’ written underneath puts the ale at the literal heart of London, adding to that image perfectly.
The power of good copywriting never ceases to amaze me. I’m about ready to snap up a cool half of London Pride on the next sunny afternoon just to feel more like I belong here, and I’m not even an ale drinker. I think that says it all.