Monday, August 31, 2020

Whatever Happened to Bobby Buntrock?

Something catches your eye and causes a flood of memories.

A truck passed me. The company name on the door was Hazel Construction.

Immediately I thought of Hazel, a TV show that, as a kid, I occasionally watched in re-runs.

Without effort, I remembered that the title character was played by Shirley Booth. Don DeFore was the dad. Bobby Buntrock played the young son. And I didn't particularly like the show.

How do I know that? Why did I know that?

There is a scientific explanation of how and why I stored that information and why it was immediately accessible even though I often can't remember a password I created yesterday.

But more importantly -- at least for this blog -- it happened. 

And it brought with it a happy, nostalgic feeling of being a kid parked in front of a TV set.

Reminding me that emotional nostalgic cues can be an effective tool when writing ads and other marketing materials. 

Here's an example from Fisher-Price:

Remember when ...

Often triggering a memory of a happy time can link that positive feeling with what you are promoting.

Tastes just like mom used to make it. 

And mom's home cooked comfort meals are just one of many ... consider

first car


first kiss

family vacation

college dorm


childhood games

first apartment

  • If a graphic or video will be included with your writing, your target audience's ears and eyes can be a simple way to trigger nostalgic emotions.
  • A song from a specific era. A car or clothing fashions from the past. A politician, actor, or other famous person. An out-of-vogue hairstyle.
  • A thoughtfully chosen typeface can support these triggers as well.

Be careful though. Be sure your target doesn't have negative emotions associated with a past memory. Maybe mom was a terrible cook.

  • Research your target audience. 
  • When did they reach the age for school, dating, college, marriage, working, retiring, etc.? 
  • What are emotional cues from those times? 
  • How can you hit that trigger quickly and without sounding phony or manipulative?

If you think nostalgia might be useful to gain attention or trigger emotion for one of your clients, do your homework and then use your writing skills to transfer that positive feeling to a brand or purchase.

So ... whatever happened to Bobby Buntrock?

Of course, I had to check up on Bobby Buntrock. It's what I do, typically spending more time researching than writing.

Bobby started acting at age 7, landing some bit parts before a 5 season run with Hazel. After Hazel he made a couple of guest shots on the TV show The Virginian. Then he retired from show business and moved to South Dakota where he went to high school. Bobby died in a car accident in 1974 at the age of 21.

By the way, I also checked out Hazel Construction which was founded in 1964, the same time that Hazel was a first run sitcom on CBS. 

But enough about Bobby. 

Is there a child actor you watched when you were a kid whose name might come rushing back to you with the right cue? How 'bout

Lindsay Lohan?

Daniel Radcliffe?

Raven Symone?

Butch Patrick?

Corey Haim?

Hayley Mills?

Gary Coleman?

Frankie Muniz?

Alyssa Milano?

Corey Feldman?

Maureen McCormick?

Danny Bonaduce?

Selena Gomez?

Jonathan Ke Quan?

Haley Joel Osmet?

Dustin Diamond?

Malcolm -Jamal Warner?

Macauley Culkin?

Feeling nostalgic?

Monday, August 17, 2020

A Tale of Two Videos

These 2 videos -- made to promote a product on social media -- demonstrate some key principles of copywriting:

  1. Target a a specific audience and speak directly to them
  2. Get attention 
  3. Identify pain that the target wants to alleviate (or pleasure the target wants to enjoy) and offer the product as the solution.
  4. Choose words carefully (don't use more words than you need)
  5. Direct the target to where they can buy the product 

OK, enough talking about it. Let's take a look at the videos and break down how they hit those 5 key checklist items.

  1. The target is copywriters and the dancing man is identified as a copywriter
  2. To get the prospect's attention, the dancing handles the heavy lifting with a little help from the command/suggestion: "Say hello to Jason."
  3. Jason is a copywriter and he's doing a happy dance (to happy music) ... if I'm a copywriter, I want to be happy like that. It is revealed that the product is the cause of the happiness.
  4. Only 7 words were used in the first 10-seconds of a 23-second video
  5. The product is shown and the viewer is directed to where they can buy it. A stronger call to action (CTA) could've been used here even considering that the primary goal was awareness and the secondary goal was purchase.

  1. The opening shot includes the words "Writer's Block" letting writers know that this video is for them
  2. Writer's block strikes fear into the hearts and minds of writers and gets their attention 
  3. Writer's block is the pain point and the point is driven home (poked at) with the images of an unproductive writer. The combination of the music and the "fast forwarding" effect adds to the experience of time going by without the writer being able to write anything. The product is offered as the relief, the way to "Say Goodbye to Writer's Block"
  4. In the first 10-seconds of a 19-second spot, only two words are used.
  5. Where to get the product and a call to action (Get Your Copy) is shown with the product itself.

The principles of copywriting align with those of marketing, selling, and persuasion. Develop the habit of reviewing your copywriting against key principles, such as asking:

  • Am I addressing a specific audience and am I doing what it takes to get their attention? 
  • Am I building interest and desire by identifying a point of pleasure or pain that they will personally identify with? Am I poking that pain or heightening the value of the pleasure? 
  • Am I doing it with as few well chosen words as necessary?
  • Am I telling them what to do next?

Your copy has a job to do. Make sure it delivers.

PS Can you guess which video got the most views, re-posts, etc.?

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Get Over Yourself

Get over yourself. David Bowie can help.

This past week was a good one. Crap ton of work delivered to thrilled clients.

I was ready to start believing my own press releases.

Sometimes I get overly impressed with myself.

To catch myself before I become a total ass, I think about David Bowie.

Here, in Bowie’s words, is a good story to absorb when you start thinking your shit doesn’t stink.

“[I] had quite the attitude as a young pop star, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype.

It changes you.

So I was on the set [of] ‘Ashes to Ashes’… I’m dressed from head to toe in a clown suit…I hear playback and the music starts. So off I go, I start singing and walking, but as soon as I do this old geezer with an old dog walks right between me and the camera…knowing this is gonna take a while I walked past the old guy and sat next to camera in my full costume waiting for him to pass.

As he is walking by camera, the director said, ‘Excuse me, [sir] do you know who this is?’

The old guy looks at me from bottom to top and looks back to the director and said, ‘Of course I do! It’s some cunt in a clown suit.’

That was a huge moment for me, it put me back in my place and made me realize, yes, I’m just a cunt in a clown suit. I think about that old guy all the time.”

Monday, August 3, 2020

5 Effective Copywriting Templates

You can't write effective copy unless you know the destination you're taking your audience to.

When you sit down to write a piece of copy, you should have a good idea who you're speaking to and what you want them to do as a result of reading the copy.

A copywriting template can serve as a road map to help you get from a blank page to copy that leads your audience to take a desired action. 

Technical Note: If you want a larger view of these quick videos, in the lower right hand corner of each video are icons for "Theater mode (t)" and "Full screen (f)" ... click either of those to enlarge the video.

While the first four templates are relatively clear and easy to put into use.
The fifth requires more explanation which you can find at

Take some time with these formulas. Google 'em if you want more details.

My advice, however, is to use them as guide rails and not think of them as edicts, etched in stone, all details to be precisely followed. Effective writing is not a color-by-numbers exercise.

Learning a new approach to your craft -- or being reminded of an approach you may not have used in a while -- can ultimately help you bring more value to your client and their target audience. 

The Parking Spot Next to the Front Door

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