Copywriting That Saves Lives

Speed CopywritingIf you’ve recently had the the misfortune of using the British motorway network you will know what a grim experience it can be at best of times. A wet Friday afternoon haul from Bristol to Manchester,  enough to reduce a grown man to Britney.

Recently though, I’ve taken interest in and  inspiration from an extraordinarily powerful piece of copywriting displayed along extended stretches of the hard shoulder of the M5 and M6 (yeah I know….I know…..but I am a copywriter. I do words…. so it’s kind of my job to notice these things…. and anyway….. if you keep reading you’ll thank me……… will…..really.)

It’s only one word. But boy….. what a word.

Put it like this. If the job of a good copywriter is to produce compelling and persuasive writing; words that talk directly to the reader, words that modify behaviour in a way they want, then the copywriter of this particular work isn’t simply good. They’re a copywriting genius. This copy saves lives.

As inspired, as it is brief, as it is unassuming, as it is effective.

The mystery copywriting?

The simple use of the word ‘average’ on motorway ‘Average Speed Checks’ signs.

Awesome…and no….I don’t use that word lightly

You’ve got to wonder how many lives have been saved by that single word and how many it will save? Hundreds I’d wager. The glorious power of average.

Now, as opposed to thrashing your car up until you see the next speed camera then slamming on the breaks you HAVE to take it easy. Your speed measured over time and distance as opposed to at a snap shot moment in time. No more gaming the system.

The benefits are clear – a steady stream of traffic, no tailgating, no violent breaking, less violent breakage. Terror dimished. Grief spared

Beautiful. Clean and clear. Average is a game changer.

Whether the average speed detection system really exists or works I have no idea. Who knows if the technology is even in place? It doesn’t matter. Is the introduction of the word based on technological or linguistic innovation? Again, it doesn’t matter. That the word ‘Average’ has been added to a sign that previously would have read Speed Checks or ‘Speed Cameras in Operation’ is really all we need to know. It’s enough.

Average – A conceptual device to modify driver behaviour making it more considered, measured and safer.

All the work is done in one word.

Pure copywriting power.

Killer copywriting that saves lives.

Love it.

My point? Little more than to share my heartfelt admiration for a word.

Have you got any copy that you consider ultra effective? Any similar examples?

Do please share them here.

Thanks to Redgum for the image

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Copywriting That Saves Lives

6 Responses

  1. I’d bring up the classic “If you don’t get through, try again” as the best example of social proof, but that’d be like going on to your granny’s blog to share my egg-sucking tips.

    Personally, “Smoking Lowers Sperm Count” is the most convincing copy I’ve seen in a while. When I was 17, I was immortal. “Smoking Kills” is still a threat to the older, sicklier me. Telling me nicotine would pickle my plums really hit home.

    Andrew Nattan November 12, 2009 at 1:02 pm #
  2. Nice one Andrew. I’m with you on that SLSC warning. Brutal.

    Breakfast at Timothy’s – A burger van on the A38. Does that count? Couldn’t help but stop for a tea 🙂

    Martin November 13, 2009 at 12:18 pm #
  3. When I started to write in a professional capacity, it was for the e-mail team in a call centre. There was a word, well a phrase, that has lost impact over time like many others.

    “We will endeavour to help.”

    It might sound cheesy now, but to me it was like gold, because I (and many others in that office) meant it. A customer service equiry can be a long, involved process. It really can be a bit of an operation sometimes to get to investigate something.

    An endeavour.

    I still don’t use that word lightly either. Not the way I use “awesome” certainly!

    Pete Shorney November 13, 2009 at 12:46 pm #
  4. Hi Pete – thanks for the comment 🙂 No it doesn’t sound cheesy it sounds committed.

    When/if you catch Vegas – I hope you’re not disappointed.

    admin November 13, 2009 at 1:02 pm #
  5. Thank you. We all chase our own “Vegas”… 😉

    Pete Shorney November 13, 2009 at 1:04 pm #

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