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Why amazing products have deadly dull ads

You’d think, being an advertiser, that all I’d want to do is sell sexy products that everyone’s raving about. In fact, the opposite is true.

The thought occurred to me when I was looking for a way to stop my classical guitar slipping around in my lap. I stumbled across this terrific solution –  “GuitaGrip.” I reckon I could sell the pants off this product. (If you work for GuitaGrip, get in touch and I’ll cut you a deal.)

When a product is understated, you have to dig much deeper for your hook. More original ideas emerge. But when a product is exciting? Well, what can you possibly add?

I remember reading about this phenomenon years ago in the advertising magazine, Campaign. 

The columnist – I forget his name – asked, “Why are iPhone ads so ‘uncreative’?”

Watch any Apple advert and you’ll usually see little more than a demonstration of the product in action. That’s not to say it’s a bad advert. Only that the product is so slick, and so sexy, that there’s almost nothing for the advertiser to say.

Now, what about something much more dull like, say, an investment in a new kind of polymer. If you think polymers and plastics are boring, you’re dead right. But what they do isn’t always boring.

I realised this, trudging through pages of research on ‘PEEK’ polymers – looking for a way to sell the opportunity to potential shareholders. Then I stumbled upon something…

‘PEEK’ polymers are expected to be ubiquitous in tomorrow’s “Green Cars.” They’re already being used my one major European auto-manufacturer. Add to this, Boris Johnson – the UK’s P.M. – announced an outright ban on petrol cars after 2035.

I wrote this hook down on paper: One LSE-listed stock that could profit from Boris’ ban.

That became an email – which crushed it’s sales target 500%. It sold, I believe, around £8,000 of newsletter subscriptions on its first run. And we may soon scale it into a full-blown marketing campaign.

How do you know when you’ve found your hook? Generally, you’ll know you have your hook when you can’t wait to get it down on paper. When you can picture how the entire ad will look in your head. When you can’t not write the ad.

This doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does it’s wonderful.

And it never fails to sell.