As a sometime historian, I take a keen interest in knowing how ideas have developed over time. And knowing such things makes me appreciate an advert like this one all the more, because it harks back to a different time. For a time, the vast majority of print adverts (certainly those seen in the US) followed a format of using a large image accompanied by a body of copy. This style clearly separates the common components of a given advert: image, headline, body copy and contact details (although the contact details could just as easily be a coupon, voucher, or any other device used as a call to action). A lot of old-fashioned print adverts followed this style, allowing for much longer copy (there are plenty of older examples on the excellent Info Marketing Blog), but it’s not so common these days. So click on the image for a modern example that reflects how copywriting used to be! (It’s also local for me, coming from a Sussex Porsche dealer).
Why this copywriting example works
The picture and separate body copy style works because it gives a simple enticing image, a written exposition and a variety of simple calls to action that complete the whole transaction. It works well because this style makes the text clear and has a no nonsense approach to the copy that gives the copywriter much more to work with. The body copy can be as short or as long as the advertiser wishes, but by being separated in this sense it creates more of an ‘article’ appearance, giving the writing more respect (if you’re going to draw someone in for a written yarn, why not make it longer, it doesn’t hurt the overall image).
It’s an example of quiet dignity – the white space shows some reserve, while the image is a picture that embodies all the product stands for. None of the component parts of the advert interrupt or interfere with one another. It’s a classy car, in a classy location, with some classy text to accompany it. No fooling, that’s what you want from a Porsche. Class. And the headline sums it up neatly: Driven by perfection. Like the style of the ad, it’s not very original, but it works. And in copywriting, that’s what counts.
It’s interesting for me to see this sort of advert reappearing in a world where there’s so much pressure to produce something new or different, something quickly consumed. That kind of attitude means this no nonsense picture and body copy advertising style is usually reserved for classier products, aiming for a more refined or antiquated style – the only products that seem to give the audience enough credit to give them something longer to read. For example you often still see it in furniture adverts (as seen in my previous examples), or for luxury cruises. This is a shame because the simple style actually opens the way for very creative advertising, as it encourages more developed copy. The text standing on its own looks like it’s worth reading, and could take you anywhere. Imagine the stories you could tell alongside a mundane product, if you only thought someone would read them…
Modern advertising is driven by clever imagery, taking the emphasis away from the writing on an assumption that no one will bother looking at adverts for long enough to read anything. But commuters on a train may be stuck there for an hour a day with nothing to look at but the poster in front of them, and people flicking through a magazines are still looking for something to read, so why not keep up the tradition of developed body copy. And after all, if copy is engaging people will want to read more. It’s not a style that’s likely to see a renaissance on the internet, where people are more inclined to read only copy which is under 160 characters long, but in print there’s still a long way a copywriter can go with long copy in this old style of advertising. If anything, this Porsche example, nice as it is to hark back to a classic advertising style, could have had much longer copy. It’d give the consumer more to read and enjoy, and a copywriter more to do.