The power of an ad copy - Attention, Desire and Action

peterman_catalogSome of you might remember the Peterman Catalog (either from the Seinfeld show, or from getting the actual catalog, or from the book ). John Peterman built a mail order apparel business on an archaically styled catalog that featured drawings, accompanied by long, poetic descriptions, that marketed mood more than specifics. What it showed was the power of an “Ad Copy”; the motivation that goes behind the sale of a product.

In the last few months, I encountered a couple of amusing examples of superb ad copies on Ebay - yes, they might have been serendipitous, unintentional ad copies but they still illustrate the basic point that the ad copies can make or break a sale - very often it is not the “product” it is the “ad copy” that motivates the buyer.

Dawn, a mother of 6 kids, recently put a baseball up for an auction and the listing started as:

I’m selling the baseball that started my wonderful first day of spring break. Do you want to know why I’m selling the baseball that started off my wonderful first day of spring break? Only because Ebay won’t let me sell my kids who were playing with the baseball that started my wonderful day. Is spring break over yet?! Here’s the whole story…

You can read the full story here. The auction attracted 220,000 views and the ordinary baseball sold for $1125!

Just last week, a father bought the holy grail of the 2007 Christmas gift, “Guitar Hero III”, for his 15 year old son. But when he caught his son smoking pot, the father decided to put the gift on Ebay. The story was heart warming and it wasn’t long before the bidding for the game, which typically sells for $125, had reached $9000+.

ImageWhen the advertising legend, David Ogilvy, was told that copy should be short and terse, because nobody reads more than a few words of an ad, he wrote the classic, “At 60 miles and hour the only sound you hear is the clock.” It was a full page of text, describing the features of the Rolls Royce. It sold a lot of cars.

A few of the critical items an ad copy needs are attention, desire and action, rest is fungible. A promise of benefit; credibility, persuasiveness, and other things are needed to create desire or induce an action.

A good ad copy is not just for selling an item from a catalog, or a baseball or a Guitar Hero video game. It is equally important for a startup to develop their ad copy for the investors and customers. An elevator speech, a fast pitch, a power point presentation, a business plan, are all ad copies for different clientele - attention, desire and action is all you need.

Young Social Entrepreneurs - STARTUP and change the world

youth_social_enterpriseA social entrepreneur is someone who recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture that creates social change.

Young Social Entrepreneur Forum is an innovative idea for engaging the youth in social entrepreneurship.

I really like the tag line - “STARTUP and change the world” - so true!

startup and change the world

The forum aims to invest in young visionaries who have big ideas and who need crucial startup support to turn their ideas into action. The start-up support includes:

• Startup financing up to USD15,000

• Essential development knowledge & tools on social entrepreneurship

• Technical consulting through mentorship

• Access to diverse networks

Their social network of youth entrepreneurs at Futureshiftters has 200+ members.

We wish them well and fully support the endeavor.

Visual effects company Digital Domain Files for IPO

digital_domain_logoDigital Domain, a 14-year-old, Venice, California based visual effects and animation company, filed to raise up to $100 million in an initial public offering.

It has been a long time coming from Digital Domain - they were planning an IPO in 1999 but the IPO market dried up. It is always nice to see IPO opportunities bubble up again.

In 2006 the company was acquired by private investment firm Wyndcrest Holdings, a group led by movie director Michael Bay (Pearl Harbor) and investor John Textor.

The award-winning company has produced computed generated special effects for films and other media. They also maintain a strong position in media convergence with online branding and an impressive list of clients. Digital Domain received the Best Visual Effects Academy Award in 1997 and 1998 (for its work on Titanic and What Dreams May Come, respectively).

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, the company reported a loss of $15M on revenue of $56.6M.

The company plans to use proceeds from the IPO to prepay in full its existing secured notes. Remaining proceeds will be used to expand its technology development and licensing program and to branch into the production of animated and visual effects-driven feature films and the development and production of video games.

Digital Domain Co-chairman Michael Bay is a famed producer who recently directed “Transformers” and “Armageddon.” Mark Miller, the company’s president and CEO, is a former executive of Lucasfilm and Industrial Light and Magic.

Founders include Hollywood hotshots James Cameron, Stan Winston, and Scott Ross.

How much copyright infringement have you done today?


A former colleague and a friend of mine, John Tehranina has written a nice article on the absurdities of some of the copyright laws.

You can read the whole article here, but the gist is that we have become an “Infringement Nation.” In a typical day, just by engaging in average activities, unwittingly, we infringe copyrights of others.

By following a typical day in a law professor’s life, he shows that even without using P2P, or downloading a single mp3, he has committed 83 acts of distinct infringement.

By the end of the day, John has infringed the copyrights of twenty emails, three legal articles, an architectural rendering, a poem, five photographs, an animated character, a musical composition, a painting, and fifty notes and drawings. All told, he has committed at least eighty-three acts of infringement and faces liability in the amount of $12.45 million.

… barring last minute salvation from the notoriously ambiguous fair
use defense, he would be liable for a mind-boggling $4.544 billion in potential damages each year. And, surprisingly, he has not even committed a single act of infringement through P2P file sharing.

His conclusions are:

Such an outcome flies in the face of our basic sense of justice. Indeed, one must either irrationally conclude that John is a criminal infringer — a veritable grand larcenist — or blithely surmise that copyright law must not mean what it appears to say. Something is clearly amiss. Moreover, the troublesome gap between copyright law and norms has grown only wider in recent years.

Of course, his examples do not take in to account the established boundaries set by the “fair use” law and “implied license” laws, but the point is well taken.

One could argue that this is not really specific to copyright law, by driving over 65 MPH on the highway, John (John, the hypothetical law professor, not John Tehranian) probably breaks the law everyday.

I would go even further that by using his internet explorer, and by visiting a website and possibly joining the Facebok social network, he is probably infringing on several patents too.

Is that a reflection on how IP laws generally are and there is no inherent way to write them so that the line of infringement and non-infringement is clear?

I don’t think so, I think one generally relies on the laws and the judicially created exceptions to the laws to conduct one’s daily lives (in the case of copyright law - the doctrine of fair use) and interpret the scope and the boundaries established by the law. The exceptions to the written laws are, very often, created precisely to address the issues of the kind John points out.

I do not think that he infringed a copyright on emails sent to him by others by quoting the emails back to them. It would a be fair use and there may also be an implied license granted by the e-mail authors to John to use that email. One can analyze each one of his examples and I believe that most of them will fall within the fair-use and/or implied license and/or education purposes license realm.

But I can not agree with him more, in terms of the need for clarity in the law, and more importantly in the perception of the scope of the applicable law.

Via Slashdot .

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