Looking to make your copy a little more relevant and engaging? This makeover of an ad will provide some insights into how to do it.
Copy and Concept Critique for Queensland Museum Ambient
Effective concept and copy in advertising should communicate the single-minded proposition (SMP) of the campaigns defined audience in a novel way. This critique thus examines the copy and concept of the Wonder of Why campaign delivered for the World Science Festival Brisbane in 2020 referencing relevant advertising theory and offering recommendations and improvements (Figure 1). When done well, a concept/copy synergy can communicate this brand relevance and offer an invitation for the audience to participate in it (Landa 2016:323) but lack of a coherent big idea can also compromise the concept /copy effectiveness. James Webb Young sees an idea as a combination of ‘new combination of old elements’ (2003:10), and this is critical in delivering an SMP effectively. However, this critique finds the SMP in the Wonder of Why campaign seems straightforwardly delivered without anything new added.
Figure 1. The Wonder of Why Advertisement
Queensland Museum chief executive Jim Thomson and Leslie Enoch articulated the SMP as ‘the Wonder of Why will spark endless curiosity and have visitors asking why’ (Enoch 2020). The target audience has been described as curiously minded people of all ages (Ibid) and many events are events like the turtle hatchery are aimed at families however the tone does not reflect this. As an example, the introduction for the headline simply states “Queensland Museum Presents’ with a description. The image and copy follow in the same tone of blandish statements which lack brevity or invite relevance. There is a large question mark that offers little contrast to the text. To use a comedy analogy, the straight guy is there but the clever gag (divergence) is missing (Landa 2016:314).
This is a lost opportunity for creativity and for the audience to interact, dialogue, or relate to an emotional level with the values, beliefs, lifestyles and attitudes of the ‘curious minds’ which likely constitute the target audience. A lack of coherent contrasts between copy and concepts deprives this campaign of energy and relevance (2003:10). The advertisement unemotionally presents information in a conventional, monotone, text-based, linear fashion without much divergence that would otherwise offer an inviting synergistic relationship of copy and concept. As Foster points out, ‘people don’t think words; they think pictures, they think relationships, they think metaphors, they think ideas’ (1996: para 6).
Alternatively, divergent thinking can enhance creativity and connection and has been described by Nik Mahan (2011:10) as a process of looking in different directions for alternative views. This could have been applied to break the routine monotony. A combination of out of the box divergent and more conventional convergent thinking could have enhanced the ideation process to more creatively reflect the voices of their target audience and drive home a big idea more effectively thus inviting audiences to participate in the brand (Figure 2).
Figure 2 Convergent and Divergent Thinking.
Shaw (2012:10) reminds of the importance of keeping the tone of voice consistent with the brand’s personality, values and beliefs while staying relatable to an audience. As the target audience includes the ‘curious minds’ of ‘all ages’, the campaign would do better to create relevance to catch the attention of families and engage them in their language. David Ogilvy advises writing in the vernacular claiming, ‘If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think’ (cited in Landa 2016:148). The revised version of this campaign (see appendix) seeks to spark curiosity and speak in a familiar vernacular to overcome some of the pedestrian shortcomings. By including a familiar family game, it looks to a combination of divergent and convergent thinking to put a new spin on the creative concept / copy idea in a way that will better drive the SMP and provide energy.
Appendix: Revised Copy and Concept
Client: Queensland Museum (Queensland Government)
Product: World Science Fair Brisbane 2020
Title: Baby Bone Operation | The Wonder of Why
Date: 30 March 2021
SMP: The Wonder of Why will spark endless curiosity and have visitors asking why.
Target Audience: Curious Families
The Wonder of Why
Got time to pick a bone?
The visuals resemble the popular operation game now sold in many varieties (possible partnership opportunity with a toy brand). Users can try to remove bones from the adult and baby with the supplied tweezers. If they touch the edges a buzzer will go off and the nose will light up red. The bones and tweezers are connected with retractable cables to prevent theft and the displays are located in safe spaces. For example, close to Queensland Museum at Southbank where families visit.
The idea is to create buzz and word of mouth via social media and beyond.
Why does an adult have 206 bones, while a newborn has 300 bones?
March 25 to 29
Call to Action:
Explore big questions in science with the worlds most curious minds.
World Science Festival, Brisbane,
Cover image: Typewriter on Pixibay CC0
Enoch, L (2020) ‘A Wonder of Why world welcomes Queensland’ [Media Statement], Minister for the Arts Queensland Government, 9 February 2020, accessed 30 March 2021.
Foster, J (1996) How to get ideas (Chapter 9), Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, CA.
Landa, R (2016) Advertising by design, 3rd edition, Wiley, Hoboken, NJ.
Mahon, N (2011) Basics advertising 03: Ideation, AVA Publishing, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Young, J W (2003) A technique for producing ideas, McGraw-Hill Professional, New York.
Shaw, M (2012) Copywriting: Successful writing for design, advertising and marketing, 2nd edition, Laurence King Publishing, London.
Queensland Museum (2020) Wonder of Why [photograph]in Deakin University [unpublished unit resources for ALA202]