A Copywriter’s Blog
Say it Unusually Ben Levy 12, September

There’s a commercial for some razor on TV right now. I could tell you about it, but I don’t have to. You’ve seen it. Or one like it.

There’s this guy in a towel. He’s shaving. Then someone asks him if that razor he’s using irritates him. He says that it does. Then someone hands him a new razor, assuring him it is much more comfortable than his old razor. He tries it and says that it is. Then a logo appears.

I don’t have to show you the spot. You don’t have to have seen the spot. Because the same spot aired six months ago.

Oh, perhaps the towel was different. Some graphics may have changed between then and now. The handle is a new color. But six months ago, that same brand assured me that they had engineered the smoothest razor ever. “It’s amazing. Glorious. Like rubbing your face on a baby’s ass, but the baby is a barber who shaves your beard while you’re rubbing” they say. Then all of a sudden it’s “What? No, no. That last razor was crap. Like shoving your face into a porcupine’s backside and then diving face-first into a cauldron of bubbling pitch. Who told you that last razor was good? But THIS one- this one is like getting facialized by a unicorn who’s playing the harpsichord and singing your favorite show tune. Assuming you’re into that sort of thing.”

Actually, if they said it like that, everything would be fine. The trouble is they’ve been saying the same exact thing forever. And even if it’s true, it’s no longer believable.

Look, there may in fact have been new, amazing advances in manual razors that we as a civilization could only dream of six months ago. But the whole damn category is talking about itself in exactly the same way it did twenty years go. I have literally heard it all before.

Every category has certain phrases and visual cues that have become so overused that our brains disengage the moment they’re exposed to them. If I see a guy in the bathroom staring at himself in a mirror, I’m out of there. If you use the words “smoother”, “sharper”, or “moisturizing strip”, I’ve already left for my own personal happy place. (Which incidentally, does not include ejaculating mythical equines)

As a copywriter, I think this is especially important. I feel like it’s my job to say things in ways you haven’t heard before. It’s why I talk a little funny. Why I write a little funny. And why I’m prone to sesquipedalian excess. It doesn’t always work, but that’s where I start from in an attempt not to sound like the forty campaigns for this client that came before.

In advertising, you’re rarely showing people something that’s completely new. But at least you can make people think or talk about it in a new way.