Should you sex up your ad copy?

06 May 2015

Is it even possible? Ann Summers has certainly managed to do it! During the heavy snowfall in December 2009, an American digital marketing company bid on snow/weather terms with ‘Brr... cold out there, why not stay in and get steamy with Sex Toys from Ann Summers’ as the adcopy. The same year, they bid on search terms such as ‘Alistair Darling’ and ‘chancellors budget’ with an ad copy that read ‘there’s no recession in pleasure,’ which appeared at the top of paid listings with a link to the Ann Summers store.1

This approach isn’t new. For decades, marketers have used the knowledge of the human psyche and have capitalised on our desires to sell products and services.

Nowadays the wealth of data available means that ad copy is informed by detailed stats and arguably doesn’t depend so much on creative marketing spin.

Restrictions to creativity also can come in the form of best practice rules.3 Additionally, clients may be unwilling to blow budget funds on potentially risky experimentations, not to mention the ruthless character constraints...

Some marketing professionals argue that consumers want to see straightforward ads, stating ‘there’s no room to be cute or gimmicky…you have to cut to the chase and make every character count to get the clicks.’4 The author of this blog argues that compelling ad copy can come in the form of numbers, ASCII characters and calls to actions. But this hardly makes me weak at the knees!

But maybe that’s okay.

As a consumer, the closer you get to converting, the more informed you are, and the more likely it is that you’re looking for USPs which sets some brands above others. This is where carefully constructed adcopy with promotional text and calls to action create the highest likelihood of conversions.

PPC adcopy, like the Ann Summers example can be sexy, imaginative, and fun. But the likelihood of having both the budget and the time to experiment with adcopy variations is highly unlikely. In my opinion, creating truly exciting adcopy is great if you want to promote brand awareness, but less so if you want to produce conversions. Therefore, creative marketing messages may be more applicable to other digital channels such as social or content, where there is both more room and a greater expectation of a playful approach.