The Language of Advertising

photography-company-signWe see it everyday, read it in magazines and newspapers, the billboards on the way to work, on the TV, radio, and in our favorite websites; but what exactly goes into writing for advertising? How do some of the most well-known and effective marketing campaigns use words and language?

To start off I should give you a quick rundown on ‘copywriting,’ which is the name given to the act of writing for advertising or the marketing of something. The role of somebody that writes for this purpose needs to write in a way that persuades the targeted market to do something, they create an action.

Copywriters are masters of inciting emotions, and to do this they need to pick their words very carefully. Some of the more common words are: New, good, free, special, extra, easy, safe, and rich. They’re rather self explanatory, but of course you also need to be able to craft the words around these too, one word will not always sell a product; this is done using techniques such as rhyme, alliteration, assonance, puns, double meanings, well-known sayings, and the intentional misspelling of words or breaking grammatical rules.


The techniques I’ve outlined so far are the same that you might have learnt in an English class at school, but there are definitely a few more tricks up a good copywriters sleeves. Let’s look at a few: ‘The Weasel Claim,’ contains a modifying word that can render the rest of the advertisement irrelevant: “Sparkle-Fresh leaves your dishes virtually spotless.” ‘The Unfinished Claim,’ something such as “Magnavox gives you more,” more what? The ‘Water is wet claim,’ states something to seem unique, even if it’s not: “Incredilash makes your eye lashes darker,” so do all the others. Lastly, ‘The Vague Claim,’ “For skin like peaches and cream,” sound’s great but what does that mean?

This is just a fraction of the techniques advertisers can use to stir emotions and make people want something, new and inventive ways are always coming in, and with technology always changing there will forever be new ways to market something.


David Ogilvy is considered the ‘father of advertising,’ a genius that Time magazine called “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry.” I would like to bring to attention some of Ogilvys most well-known quotes of the advertising industry, and like any good quote, they can be taken to apply to life in general: “Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ball park. Aim for the company of immortals.” “First, make yourself a reputation for being a creative genius. Second, surround yourself with partners who are better than you are. Third, leave them to go get on with it.” My personal favorite is “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”

Can you think of some humorous advertisements you’ve seen recently? What do you think makes a good advertisement memorable?