The year is 2017. Heinz has just green-lighted an advertising campaign that was pitched by fictional copywriter, Don Draper in Mad Men over 50 years ago. So, why did it take Heinz half a century to bite? 

The truth is, partly a PR stunt, the campaign was guaranteed to provoke fans of the show, generating more column inches than bourbons swilled in Draper’s office. 

The episode itself aired in 2013, but you can assume the script writer portrayed the creative thinking of the era. For arguments sake, Nicole Kulwiki, head of the Heinz brand, said in a statement: “Even though Don Draper created the ‘Pass the Heinz’ campaign almost 50 years ago, the communications still really work in today’s world.” 

Draper’s Heinz pitch was born through the same kind of audience insight we use today. The campaign, predominantly designed for print, is transferable across various social platforms thanks to its clean copy and digestible visuals. 

Through the campaign’s simplicity it manages to capture a home truth, depicting dinner table behaviour, and language. Every Heinz fan knows never to settle for the foods they love without Heinz’s great taste. In three simple words ‘Pass the Heinz’ conveys a strong brand message that resonates with its audience. And there’s a lot we can learn from the greats.

Copywriter, David Ogilvy’s 1958 ad for Rolls Royce is still one of the most famous of all time. A full-page print ad, Ogilvy grabs our attention by highlighting a seemingly unimportant fact – “At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.”

Once he has our attention, he reels us in – and in less than 200 words, we’re hooked. His sentences are short and informative. The formula is tried and tested. A large image taking up most of the page, an eye-catching (or thumb-stopping as the Facebook generation call it) headline and two columns of long copy.

Keeping this formula in mind, you’re left with all the conventions for a successful social post. Imagine your key visual, set with your headline as your post image, and the post copy itself acting as the long copy. 

Heinz ad mad men
Statistics have proven time and time again that 250-300 words is the physical maximum that most people read before they get bored. It worked in the 50s, it works for countless webpages every day. What do they have in common? 

Here’s my 80 cents 

Great headlines, make you read on. Great copy makes you read further. Remember that classic episode of The Simpsons where Mr. Burns saves just one puppy because it can stand on its hind legs and thus stand out from the crowd? Well that’s what your copywriter is doing for you. Trying to make you stand out so you don’t get skinned alive. 

Draper understood the importance of the headline. It was the way in to his audience. Like his real-world counterpart once said: “On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.”

In an online environment riddled with click bait, and more articles published a minute than there are minutes in the day, you must give your readers a reason to choose you. 

Human Intelligence 

Are you a real person? Sound like one. People sell to people. With audiences on higher alert than ever for crafty copy, it’s important not to over craft your copy. 

Don’t address your readers as though they were gathered together in a stadium. When people read your copy, they are alone. Talk to them directly. Stiff corporate communications had their day a long time ago. Make it professional and clean up those typos. Otherwise, relax and just write like you talk. Worried that 1 in 10 people who read your copy won’t know what a word means? Lose the word or lose the audience. When in doubt, throw it out.

Write warm and write friendly, but not too friendly. Personality is key, so identify a tone of voice and stick to it. If your brand was a person, what would they be like? Your brand should talk like that person. Write about what your audience want to read. Draper had this perfected, fans of Mad Men will know that he had a formula too. He cut’s straight to the chase and goes for your heart. In contrast with Ogilvy, he doesn’t give you an explanation to buy, he makes you feel it. We want to feel good about our actions, and good copy makes that happen. 

Do something 

Most people only read the copy if an interesting picture or interesting headline captures their attention. Web copy must work hard, while the traditional writer only has to keep the reader turning the page, when it comes to web, you have to encourage your reader to read the next line and the one after that – and then take action. 

Direct mail was born when Sears sent out 8000 handwritten postcards and received 2000 orders. Now we’re able to reach our audience more directly than ever. They just need a nudge. The last thing on every page of your website should be the answer to this question: “What do I do now?

We can’t promise the old-fashioned’s but do say hello and see what e3 can do for you today.