The Ad-poem :

As a client servicing manager for the last few years, there have been periods and instances when client expectations remained seriously unmet. Often client briefs ask for “something simple” and often as not they ask for something radically different but rooted in what is currently working well. Clients appear to be looking for something, catchy, attention grabbing and so on. However attempts to understand and convert their expectations usually leave them even more dissatisfied. 

An intuitive approach brings out the intimate connection between the languages of poetry and advertising. Both the poet and the copy writer have a common purpose. The desire to provoke seems to be the foremost among them. The economy that characterizes great poetry can well be applicable to good advertising as well. Great advertising appears to be focused on creating intensely provoking imagery with high recall value. Almost all the artefacts used by a poet appear in advertising as well, metaphors, similes and inversion to name a few. Bilingual advertising copy takes us one step ahead. A purist may well decry that bilingual poetry is no poetry however for a good copywriter imbued with a seemingly “higher purpose” the intense need to communicate with his target audience overrides the purists’ credo. What is blasphemy for the poet is wisdom for the copy writer and hence bilingual advertising is here to stay. 

In making an attempt to convert brand features into hard hitting customer benefits serendipity occasionally fills the gap when needed most. Can poetic flights of fancy be the answer during these tense moments that can break or make an account? Indeed, apart from being a useful brain storming exercise, the topic is well worth pursuing in academic circles as well. 

The following poem represents in many ways an attempt to marry the art of poetry with the needs of a good brain storming process, which is the heart of great advertising campaigns.

A brand of cough medicine was to be launched and the client copy mentioned the need for differentiation amidst the clutter in the market place…a typical brain storming session attended by the client did not help sell the case for the agency. At long last the session ended with a plan to meet afresh the next day… A chance re reading of the client brief and a willingness to experiment led the copywriter to prepare his thoughts using the economy of words that characterize a poem, along with focus on the consumer problem that allows for expression of the classic, problem poser followed by benefit selling concept which is the central credo of good advertising copy.

Sycoril - The Smile Reviver

I know you are busy with patients to care,
Who need your attention, --“no time to spare”,
I will be brief and I will be quick,
What I have to say concerns your patients’ sick.

When discharge is copious and mucus is tough 
When infection is evident and breath is a huff
When grandmother’s cough potion, is no more the solution,
And the home grown knowledge is no longer wisdom.

The young mother turns to you, busy yet kind doctor,
Please help me bring back the smiles and laughter,
Grand father and grandmother also sense trouble
The grandchild should play all out- full throttle,

You smile and signal – do not worry too much,
Modern science is made of much sterner stuff,
Productive cough will surely respond, 
To the right combination that I shall put down,

On paper, my prescription, for the reliable Sycoril,
Will bring back the laughter, which now stands still.
Father and mother waste not a moment, 
The prescription encashed they await improvement.

Trustworthy Sycoril is true to its task,
Bromhexine cuts thru’ the mucus, clears it up fast,
Guaiphenesin in Sycoril is surely not lacking,
It clears up the cough and thanks to the backing 

Of menthol, the irritation is sent packing,
And throat aka larynx is no longer complaining.
Time-tested Salbutamol does what it knows best,
Its powerful bronchodilation, gives a much need rest,

To the respiratory tract, and oh how sweet, 
Is the flavor of Sycoril- mixed fruit is a treat.
Thank you doctor for your valuable time,
Please remember my Sycoril, till we meet next time.

This “ad-poem” served two purposes. In the first instance it brought the entire team together with a fresh perspective and determination to create a campaignable idea. Secondly it allowed for a fresh dissection of the body copy of the poem to gain a more dynamic perspective of the brand, the customer and consumer setting and the relative merits of the ingredients and the benefits. The typical graphical and visual structure that characterizes poetry as well as the typical elements of a print ad starting from a catchy headline, a visual problem poser, brand name, features, benefits and pay off for usage all have been served well.

This combination of improving analytical as well as creative skills made this one of the most successful brain storming sessions leading to a satisfactory conclusion.


More by :  Ravishankar Krishnan

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