Why the Age of Long Copy Isn’t Long Gone


Why the Age of Long Copy Isn't Long Gone

The passing of David Abbott last year has prompted many retrospectives of his work.

I've marvelled afresh at brilliant ads like the one below.

And this

And this

Seeing these again has initiated a wave of nostalgia amongst many including myself.

It reminds many of the great work that inspired us to work in this industry.

It's also led many to bemoan the death of the long copy ad.

But if long copy ads were so good, why don't we still make them?

One common reason is the need for ads to work internationally. Clearly this type of advertising is harder to translate. The subtly and finesse of the copy would no doubt suffer in the process.

But another frequent assumption is that people don't have the time or the inclination to read long copy anymore.

Certainly it's true that people are bombarded by more marketing communications than ever before.

And it's also correct that we all process more information than ever before. We take in more than four times as much information every day as we did in 1986 the equivalent of 174 newspapers.

But if this is the case, why am I seeing more and more advertorials? Surely they're just boring long-copy ads.

And why is so much content marketing being produced? If people don't have time for a little ad, what makes us think they have time for an opinion piece?

I am being slightly flippant here and Im certainly not suggesting we all ditch content marketing in favour of a return to long-copy press ads.

My point is that we're asking for more of people's time at the very moment they have less of it to give.

What David Abbott reminds me is that we must still earn people's attention. In the relentless drive to get stuff out there, we musn't forget the need to captivate and persuade whatever the format. This in itself requires an investment of our time, which is also an increasingly scarce resource.

– RG