The Four Cornerstones of Copy Part 3 [Copywriting Tips]

In parts 1 and 2 of this Copy Cornerstones mini series, we looked at Fear and Greed. Today it’s the turn of Envy.

When I was 16, I went to a party miles from anywhere, got drunk, slept in a ditch, then attempted to walk home by way of a restricted motorway (ie. no pedestrians allowed).

Within 10 minutes the police turned up in a shiny new Range Rover (they’d only just come out back then in the UK) and asked me what I was doing.

I told them I was lost and needed to get home. Instead of arresting me, they got me home safely (for which I will forever remain grateful).

But it started a lifelong envy of Range Rovers and their owners. I mean, how was it possible to buy something that at the time, cost half as much as a house (the average house price in the UK in the early 1970’s was around £4000).

I had another problem with this, I hated then (and still hate to this day) the whole idea of authority (be it teachers, police, judges, politicians, etc.). I guess I’m an anarchist at heart (it’s no wonder I love the film “If…” and left school as soon as I was legally allowed to).

Has my envy for the Range Rover gone? No. it’s not quite as strong as it used to be, but it’s still up there (especially if the person driving it looks anything like an authority figure – you know, well dressed, coiffured, and looking superior 🙂

Would I buy one today? Not in a million years (although extensive therapy might help).

So what has all this got to do with copywriting? There’s envy and there’s envy. As copywriters, we can exploit it by building on an existing envy until that envy blossoms into full blown lust.

We want our audience drooling over every word as they taste the eliteness and one-upmanship of owning something most people can’t afford.

We want them to see every little shiny part of the object of desire we’re selling until it shines so brightly in their favour, they feel the world owes it to them (and nothing but owning that object right now will suffice).

Would it work on me? Of course not. I’ve got over that sort of thing…

PS. If you noticed that some of the questions above are missing a question mark, it’s because they are rhetorical. Rhetoric is a powerful language and something I teach in the ICA. Start with the ICA Getting Started series:

PPS. Part 4 of Copy Cornerstones is out tomorrow.



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