Mark Twain was wrong. Shorter isn’t always better.

A famous Mark Twain quote goes like this: ‘I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead’.
Plus, almost every advertising book ever written also extols the virtues of crafting copy so it’s short, sharp, and punchy. After all, less is more.

And while I agree, I’ll also say that it’s important to know when to bend the rules a little. Sometimes you’ll run into a client who has also read those same advertising books. They then go to work trimming back words with little regard to the overall effect on the tone of the ad. As a result, sometimes you find it’s definitely shorter but it’s also lost something. So, while ‘shorter’ is one way of making copy better, it’s  not synonymous with  making copy better.

To illustrate this point, I’ve taken the script of one of my favourite ads (1997’s ‘Crazy Ones’ for Apple, by TBWA\Chiat\Day). I’ve then applied the ‘word economy’ rule and cut out the tautologies and other words someone might deem to be ‘superflous’.
Sure, you end up with shorter copy, but I wouldn’t say it’s better.
If you know the rules, you should also know when to break them (or, perhaps more relevant here, when to ‘think different’).

crazy ran

crazy strikethrough

crazy bastardised

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2 responses to “Mark Twain was wrong. Shorter isn’t always better.

  1. Krishna Jakkinapalli

    In th age f SMS th relevance of long copy is losing its sheen. If v r 2 addrz th shrt attn span v shud focus on effective comm & nt wrry abt lng r srt copy

  2. Brilliant. Thank you!

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