The Chasers have been around since 1938, which means we're old enough to remember the days of long-copy industrial ads. Those ads often told convincing stories about a product or service, illustrating and emphasizing features to demonstrate a benefit.
Long-copy industrial ads have mostly gone the way of the cassette deck as audiences have grown more harried in an age of electronic gratification. Who's got three minutes to spend on a print ad when you've got five text messages and 10 emails to answer?
Panasonic Corp. and IBM Corp. apparently think otherwise. Our recent scan of the business press found their long-copy ads that, at the very least, break through the clutter of b2b ads that merely flash a quick impression at a reader.Under the headline “Panasonic invents a new way to light up the modern world,” the advertiser tells the story of how it used its engineering ingenuity to tap energy-efficient LED lighting to spectacularly illuminate Tokyo's new Skytree tower.
The ad describes in detail the daunting technological challenges of efficiently lighting the 2,000-foot structure, including the 450-foot antenna tower on top. Panasonic's team leader on the project is quoted: “The initial plan called for using the conventional system of lenses to project the light, but progress requires a daily regimen of trial-and-error. Along the way, experimentation led to the use of parabolic reflectors, which projected light much farther—even 100 to 140 meters—and with pinpoint accuracy. It was a true breakthrough.”
Copy goes on to say the LED solution produced a 43% savings over conventional lighting methods. Panasonic's problem-solution copy sounds convincing from start to finish and should impress customers with less demanding lighting needs. Our only suggestion would be to make the image of the illuminated tower in the ad more prominent. It's forced to compete with the primary headline and the inset image of a journalist who reported on the story.IBM builds its long-copy ad around a colorful infographic that resembles a Rube Goldberg contraption. The depiction of a painfully complicated IT deployment is engagingly whimsical, especially for younger audiences who are fond of visuals.
Like Panasonic, IBM takes the time and the space in this eye-catching execution to explain how it's created a system to substantially reduce the time it takes an IT department to specify and procure components. A 100-word copy block would hardly do that justice.
States the copy: “Using patterns established by IBM and leading software vendors, this new breed of expert integrated systems can be up and running in as little as four hours. And once deployed, these systems can automatically scale and adjust resources as the needs of business change—a process that might otherwise take weeks—freeing IT people to focus on larger, more strategic goals.”
Back in the day, long-copy ads had to tell a complete story. Telling the complete story in the Internet era isn't necessary because a key goal of print is to get readers to a landing page. Although both Panasonic's and IBM's ads ultimately direct their audiences to the Web, readers most likely got everything they needed from the print execution.
Two ads don't make a trend, of course. Still, we are heartened to see two leading advertisers take us back to a time when copy was king.