Don’t Make Promises Your Product Can’t Keep

There are two creative roads a company can go down when advertising a beauty product:

1. They can show the benefits of using the product under ideal circumstances. For example, a print ad for a moisturizer might show a half-naked, gorgeous woman with already flawless skin, glowing under studio lights.

2. They can promise the product will improve realistic circumstances. A great example of this approach is The Body Shop (TBS) ad shown here.

When my co-worker sent me this ad, I instantly fell in love. This is a great concept. It makes a believable promise to customers, and (without being preachy) takes a moral stance that customers who buy TBS’s natural products can probably relate to and admire.

But the ad also got me thinking about which of the two approaches mentioned above is smarter from a sales standpoint. Which one is gonna sell more makeup and lotion?

As a woman, I’d be lying if I said I’d never been duped into buying overpriced shampoo or lipgloss by a print ad with a gorgeous model. Although I’m fairly comfortable in my own skin and not overly concerned with appearance, there’s a little slice of my brain that’s poisoned by entertainment media’s unrealistic depiction of what a female should look like.

I should mention this brain-chunk is a primitive fixture. It can’t really be wholly quieted. I see an ad with a beautiful model and the chunk half yells and half belches, “Drive to Rite-Aid! Buy the lotion! It’ll make you look like a supermodel!” When I was 20, the chunk was bigger, and it sometimes won. Today, I see an ad like that and say, “Shut up, chunk. That stuff isn’t miracle cream. We’ve got lotion at home that’s working just fine.”

But I appreciate the fact that self-esteem is an evolving quality, and every woman’s “chunk” is probably a different size at any given time. TBS ad shown says, “There are 3 billion women who don’t look like supermodels and only 8 who do.” We know this, and yet we can still be swayed by ads that promise products will make us look like supermodels. WTF?

Anyway, I’m sure I’ve gone off on a little bit of a rant to express the emotional nature of beauty purchases in relation to approach #1. This approach speaks to the insecurities of women. But, if you think about it, SO DOES APPROACH #2.

SO what’s the difference? The difference takes place after the product is purchased. When you buy a product promoted in ad approach #1 ad, you’ll be disappointed. This is why you see such rapid product turnover in beauty companies – customers are unsatisfied because results don’t match benefits shown in ads.

Approach #2 makes a more realistic promise: take care of yourself and you’ll like what you have just a little more. This is a promise that a product can live up to. And in my opinion, that is exactly the kind of promise you want to make for an ad to be effective for repeat customers.

So that’s the lesson we learn from this great Body Shop ad: If you don’t want customers to give up on your brand, don’t make promises your product can’t keep.

20 Blogs All CNY Copywriters & Bloggers Should Read

Despite a sub-par job market, I’ve had the good fortune of landing two great creative positions here in Central New York. For the past 3.5 years, I’ve worked under the title of account creative at MPW Marketing in Clinton, NY. This was an absolutely outstanding experience, as I was able to work closely with topnotch marketing strategists and to gain confidence as an advertising creative.

A few days ago, I accepted a job as senior copywriter/client advocate at Designworks Advertising in Syracuse, NY. I’m really excited because I’ve heard lots of great things about this creative team. Of course, I’m sad to leave my MPW peeps, but I’m stoked that such a big portion of my 40-hour workweek will be devoted to the craft of writing.

As a writer, I feel the best way to keep the work from getting stale is to continually strive to get better. That’s why I was excited when I came across the blog post 20 Must Read Blogs for a Successful Copywriter.

Granted, these blogs are recommended for those focused on online copy writing careers – but a lot of them are really good! I’ve visited some before and some are new to me. But I thought all are worth sharing, so below you’ll find the list of blogs with links. Their subject matter is in parenthesis.

Problogger (blogging & writing)

Dumb Little Man (personal development & productivity)

Copyblogger (blogging & copywriting)

Zen Habits & Write To Done (writing, blogging & creative)

The Writers Manifesto (writing)

The Simple Dollar (finance)

Chris Garrett (internet marketing, freelance writing & blogging)

Dosh Dosh (freelance heaven)

Seth Godin (freelance writing & blogging)

43 Folders (productivity)

Life Hacker (freelance writing, just a great blog)

Entrepreneurs Journey (blogging & entrepreneurs)

Men With Pens (improving writing skills & content)

Chris Pearson (most sought after freelance WordPress designer)

Daily Blog Tips (duh)

Steve Pavlina (4,000 word essays)

Skelliewag (blogging)

Life Hack (productivity)

Chris Brogan (social media)

Merry Christmas from the Furlongs!

During the last 3 years at MPW Marketing, I’ve worked extensively with photographer Nancy L. Ford. She is absolutely awesome. Not only does she have a great eye as both a studio photographer and photojournalist, but she also has some killer photoshop skills.

Nancy’s a busy woman, so when she offered to shoot and shop our Christmas card for us, I was hesitant because I didn’t want to take up her time. Now I’m so glad she did it, because we have this awesome memento of Amelia’s first Christmas and were complimented on how adorable she is no less than 300 times this holiday season.

Thanks, Nancy!!


MPW Wins Award of Excellence for National Print Ad.

The ad agency I work for, MPW Marketing, located here in Central New York, has won loads of awards for our Totaline ad campaign. Here’s a press release I wrote about a recent award:

MPW Marketing, a Clinton-based advertising agency, recently won an advertising excellence award for a print ad they created for Totaline, a division of Carrier Corporation.

MPW received the award based on the results of a study that found the ad to be highly remembered by readers of the national publication in which it was featured. The study reports that 77% of readers recalled the ad.

This is not the first award MPW has won for their zany Totaline ad campaign. Over the last two years, MPW received 19 Readex Awards for their memorable ads. “We’ve created over 50 print ads for Totaline but continually challenge ourselves to come up with increasingly imaginative and visually-compelling ads,” said Sara Furlong, MPW account creative.

However, MPW owner Matt Wilson points out that the company’s pride in the award runs deeper than creativity. “The really great thing about this award is it is based on statistically-sound research that measures the effectiveness of the ad. It is true we always try to come up with creative and surprising ideas, but our number one goal at MPW Marketing is to give our clients a product that works because it speaks to their target audience.”

Totaline marketing manager Jim Flynn agrees. “With the amount of money we spend advertising in these national publications, it is great to know our ads are being remembered by the right people,” he said.

In addition to creativity and good strategy, MPW Marketing attributes their success in the Totaline print ad campaign to Nancy L. Ford, the Utica-based photographer who shoots the Totaline ads. “We come to Nancy with some pretty crazy ideas and she’s never failed us in bringing them to life,” Furlong explained.

The award-winning Totaline print ads created by MPW can be viewed at