Advertising stimulates the sales of a good product and accelerates the destruction of a bad product. To make a claim which the product does not possess merely increases the frequency with which the consumer notices its absence.” – Alfred Politz

Orange tiles, a private island, and the world’s top models.

That’s all it took for the Fyre Festival to become the most sought-after event of the year…maybe the decade.

But those familiar with the Fyre Festival know that Billy McFarland and his team wrote checks their asses couldn’t cash.  

fyre festival expectation reality

Talk is cheap, and even the best advertising can’t make up for a bad product.  

When copywriting turns into product consulting

Advertising legend Rosser Reeves always said that when they had to advertise a bad product, their first step in creating the ad wasn’t actually advertising at all – it was advising the business to improve their product so that it would satisfy customers and contain a unique selling proposition (USP).

Reeves understood three important things about sub-par products:

  • They’re nearly impossible to create effective advertisements for.
  • Their ads can verge on unethical given that the claims are highly exaggerated or outright false.
  • Under the influence of a great ad, consumers might be influenced to buy these products, but it’ll only work once. Those consumers likely won’t be repeat customers.

A copywriter will quickly realize when they’re dealing with one of such clients, at which point they’ll be faced with a dilemma: do the work exactly as instructed, or do what works.

In other words: Should I stay in my lane or should I do my due diligence?

Fyre Festival’s marketing team started asking themselves the same question, ultimately arriving at the conclusion that they needed to speak up. But when they did, they were met with rejection.

“Don’t bring me problems. Just do your job.”

A good copywriter, I’m convinced, can elegantly balance the two — writing exceptional, sales-driving messaging while simultaneously guiding their client to create a quality product/service with clear benefits.  

If either one of the two cannot be achieved, the product is doomed to failure. Either people won’t buy it, or people will buy it and be so disappointed that they’ll never buy it again…or worse, tell everyone else what a sham it was.

When looking for a copywriter, don’t stop at “Can they write?”. A great copywriter will understand your offering so well that they actually make your business better.

True or false: The best advertisement is a good product

Some say that if you have a good enough product, you don’t even need advertising. These people believe that truly great products sell themselves.

That has never been true.

Surely you’ve loved something so much that you’ve told your friends and family about it. This would seem to indicate a “product that sells itself” – wouldn’t it? While the purchases seem to be purely organic, the first person still had to learn about the product from somewhere, and then they told someone about it.

When Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, did he keep it in his house hoping that one of his dinner guests would find it and ask “what’s that?”

When Einstein developed the theory of relativity, did he write it on a notepad and lay it in the street, hoping someone would find and read it?

Products and services must have a unique benefit to communicate to consumers, but that benefit must be communicated.

A great copywriter knows that products need more than inherent quality to sell, but never less.

product quality ad quality quadrant

Advertising the commodity

What’s unique about a music festival?

There’s Coachella, SXSW, Stagecoach and plenty more. Why Fyre? Why did the world need another music festival?

When you’re tasked with selling a commodity, you cannot hope to survive without a USP. But here’s the thing about USPs — they don’t have to be unique to your product. They only have to be unique to your advertisement.

The famous example is the “It’s Toasted!” campaign by Lucky Strike cigarettes. To make a cigarette, manufacturers toast the tobacco. This method was not unique to Luck Strike. In fact, that’s just the way it was done in the tobacco industry.

It didn’t matter.

The public didn’t know that all cigarettes were made that way, so the ad caused them to perceive that Lucky Strike cigarettes were unique…special.

Fyre Festival was selling an idea. A feeling. An identity. Just look at their video promo.

Their videos promised the consumer that if you come to Fyre Festival, you will be part of the elite. An insider. One of the beautiful people. Let all your friends wallow in their FOMO.

Fyre got this right, of course. It was how they sold out of thousands tickets in a matter of days. They turned something that could have been viewed as a commodity into a unique, enviable experience. You had to have it.

A great copywriter finds a benefit that no one has ever promoted before, and uses it to the brand’s advantage.

A plane can be beautiful, but it must also fly

Watching the Fyre Festival, I was struck with the magnitude of a business owner’s responsibility. They not only need to acquire customers — they must also have an incredible product.

A great copywriter partners with a business in this venture. They not only know their craft, but intimately know your business.  

Advertising is the clear, compelling communication of a product/service benefit to the consumer. It highlights a product, it doesn’t create the product. It persuades the consumer, it doesn’t keep the customer.

As Reeves says in his book Reality in Advertising, a plane can be beautiful, but it must also fly.

Hiring Soapboxly secures you a partner that not only cares about making your product or service look good, but also cares about your business holistically.

Think of us as a business partner that just happens to know how to write.

Interested? Let’s talk.