KFC remind us of the power of great copywriting.
KFC has been at it again… being irreverent and lighting up our marketing feeds with their ‘Don’t be a Tosser’ campaign. Amusing (even LOL), highly shareable, on brand and on-trend in the socially responsible vibe of a Covid world. And consumers love it.
But as we doth our caps to the KFC team we might want to look a little close at what or rather who was behind this a great piece of brand comms. Of course, there’s consumer insight in there and an accommodating brand personality that gives permission for being so close to the line, but two swallows didn’t make this summer alone. Enter the Copywriter.
Copywriter… such a dull title. Almost an insult as this marketing discipline should really be described as alchemy, with words. ‘Don’t be a Tosser’ is a great example that should shine a light into that dimly lit, quiet corner of the marketing world where the copywriters hang out. “With great chicken comes great responsibility”, and “throw up our wings in despair”, is witty, irreverent and beautifully written for this powerhouse brand that have brought us Chicken Town and other such campaign treats. But this campaign is all about the words with a few choice images of bad littering behaviour that’s giving the brand a bad name. “Fetch the copywriter…”
Copywriters. Let’s be honest these guys aren’t usually the rockstars on your agency team. They may not get the invite to the award night or are often absent from the pitch. It’s a miss if that’s the case. Great copy is often what makes KFC and other brands lift themselves above the rest. It’s a craft, an art form and it’s often so good we don’t even notice it. But you can feel it.
So why is copywriting so undervalued in building brands? Some of the toughest headcount conversations I’ve had are trying to persuade a business to budget for copywriting. And yet we all want our comms to punch above their weight in a crowded news feed. The assumption is often that our ‘creative’ (by which we usually mean graphics) is where the stardust lies. But invariable even great creative is left cold without great copy.
Could it be:
· we can all write copy, right? do we really want to spend our percious marketing monies on something we can do ourselves? We often perhaps unfairly expect multi-tasking marketing execs and managers to be able to pull great copy out of the bag.
· or/and is the personality of the brand well defined enough to give great copy a chance? Every artist needs a canvass and paint to create a masterpiece.
· and is your copywriter left on the periphery when the campaign is taking shape or last in the content production line? Is copy an afterthought to the ‘big idea?’.
KFC didn’t fall into any of these traps (do you?). With a ballsy line like ‘don’t be a tosser, the whole weight of this campaign rests on the shoulders of the copy and it delivers. Copy can and regularly does make a campaign.
5 years ago, whilst working in early parenting a copywriter from a small New York agency (now defunct) pitched the manifesto copy for a campaign. It was great copy and contained the line, “because when you raise a baby, you also raise yourself”. Right there in the pitch I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and for me it still has that power all these years later. Every time I hear it I have that same reaction. The campaign has moved on but the line remains as it gets that reaction time and time again for the brand. (And yes, I followed that copyrighter to his next agency with my account).
But before I write off the importance of everyone else in the KFC team, of course it’s a team effort and everyone plays their part. But this is the perfect example of how pivotal the copywriter, often absent and as such often overlooked, is.
So, if you’re hiring copywriters or being billed for copywriting time by your agency you should be seeing the alchemy that great copy can deliver which is so much more than the sum of the marketing parts. If not, then give some thought to why.
With a great brief and a well-defined brand personality, great copy writers leave consumers not just wanting to buy your brand but to join it. And that is worth paying for, every time.